In the build-up to Gray Maynard’s co-main event fight with Ross Pearson at UFC Fight Night 47 there were real questions hanging over the former title challenger’s ability to take a punch after a string of stoppage defeats, and his second round TKO loss only adds fuel to the fire.
However, despite ‘The Bully’ now having lost four of his last five fights, all by stoppage due to strikes, one man who isn’t ready to call curtains on Maynard’s career just yet is UFC president Dana White.
“Obviously he came here to fight, and he’s been cleared medically to fight, I think the kid is healthy,” White told reporters at the post-fight press conference. “But, you know, it’s probably a discussion we might have. I’m not looking to chase Gray out of the game or anything like that. I’ll talk to him though.
“These guys go through extensive medical testing and we know getting knocked out isn’t good for you. But we’ll see. He’s a young guy, he’s talented, we’ll see what he wants to do.”
Maynard is not that young any more though, having turned 35 in May, and it’s become fairly obvious to many of those who’ve watched him fight over the years that his chin has deteriorated significantly.
To an extent White’s point of view is understandable though – it’s hard to reconcile the version of Maynard we now see before us when only a few years ago he was unbeaten in his 12 fight MMA career and was heading into the second of two thrilling lightweight title scraps with Frankie Edgar.
That second fight would prove to be the start of Maynard’s downfall though, with Edgar producing the only clean KO of his 22 fight career against him.
The only fight he hasn’t been stopped in since then was against Clay Guida in a somewhat bizarre and exceptionally lackluster fight in 2012 that was largely ‘The Carpenter’s’ fault for barely making an attempt to test Maynard’s chin.
After nine months on the sidelines since a tough TKO loss to Nate Diaz last year, Maynard’s fight last night had been billed as him starting one last run at the title, but his defeat now leaves him in danger of sliding completely off the official UFC lightweight rankings (currently at No.12).
Outwardly he still seems to be in good physical condition and has the skills to be a threat in the division, but we’ve seen this all before (Chuck Liddell being a perfect example) and know how this story ends more often than not, and so Maynard will have to think long and hard about whether it’s worth risking his health to step back into the Octagon again.