Drama you can’t script Part 2: Frankie Edgar is a Terminator/possibly Yul Brynner
When Gray Maynard clipped Frankie Edgar in round one of their UFC 136 bout, I had a feeling of déjà vu wash over me. No it wasn’t just the feeling of an overstuffed stomach engorged with ham and turkey from the thanksgiving feast I enjoyed earlier, this was a movie I had seen before. The second bout of their trilogy had started the same way, with Maynard clubbing Edgar in round one and the champion having to hold on for dear life in hopes of clearing the cobwebs between rounds. In the first fight Maynard had gassed himself out going for the finish and Edgar got on his bike and used precise footwork to hit and run his way to a draw (a fight I thought Edgar won). Edgar had shown great heart, gutting out that first round and leaving Las Vegas with his title.
So when Maynard had Edgar in trouble this time, he didn’t repeat the mistakes he made in their second tangle. He paced himself and picked his shots, but couldn’t put the plucky champion away. Still, he dominated with a clear 10-8 round (although strangely 2 judges only gave him a 10-9 advantage), and he seemed the fresher of the two fighters. Edgar was in trouble, and Maynard had it all figured out. Didn’t he? Round 2 was rather bizarre with Maynard seemingly only looking for a big uppercut, and Edgar content with dancing in and out landing crisp boxing while recovering from the previous round’s beating. Maynard had given the round away, Edgar’s confidence was growing. Round 3 was all Edgar as he dominated with superior footwork and short, fast combinations. Maynard couldn’t touch him with his slower, one power shot at a time approach. Also his wrestling, possibly the best in the division, was nullified by Edgars speed and footwork.
It was after round 3 when I realised that Maynard’s tools had never meshed. Maynard has powerful boxing and top shelf wrestling but he can’t ever seem to put them together, he either uses one or the other. He doesn’t seem to possess the ability to make a transition from boxer to wrestler mid bout. He never uses his hands to get in close and then snap off a powerful double leg. He is either a power wrestler or a power boxer.
Round 4 starts the same way as round 3– with Edgar putting on a boxing clinic and mixing in some leg kicks–but never really totally putting the stamp on Maynard, finally Maynard goes for a single leg but Edgar easily slips out and lands a short uppercut. THE UPPERCUT STUNS MAYNARD! Edgar hammers him with another right staggering him into the cage. Another big (laser guided) right puts Maynard face down on the canvass, and Edgar follows it up with a flurry of lefts to the side of his head. The ref had seen enough and steps in before Maynard can get full on “Crosby’d”. Edgar had snatched victory from the jaws of defeat, rarely has an athlete shown so much perseverance in the face of failure.
The internet is lousy with articles claiming Edgar to be “The real life Rocky”, this is patently false. Rocky was a punching bag that survived on heart and power alone. Frankie is a highly skilled fighter who happens to have a ton of heart and an uncanny ability to survive where lesser men would wilt. Frankie is no Rocky, Frankie got increasingly better with each sequel.