Not only will Gray Maynard answer any question that’s thrown his way, but he’ll answer it in a refreshingly real way. Gray addresses whether or not he’s a ‘boring’ fighter, if Anthony Pettis deserves a crack at the title and if Frankie Edgar possesses comparable wrestling to his own. Some fans may take objection to Gray’s candor, but he even has an opinion on that, too. Gray took time out of his busy schedule to talk with MMAFA.tv about his upcoming rubber match bout against the UFC Lightweight Champion Frankie Edgar.
Jon Luther: Thanks for the time, Gray. You’re coming off of the first exciting fight of your career. How does it feel?
Gray Maynard: [Laughs] It feels good. But that’s what people say, right? Ever since I fought Edgar almost 3 years ago, I’ve only fought lefties. It’s a different style, a slower pace, and if you watch boxing a lot you know that. And nobody wanted to fight these guys because they were bad style match-ups. I took those fights.
For a lot of guys a lefty like Nate Diaz is a bad match-up, Florian and Miller are both bad match-ups, and I also fought [Rich] Clementi at a time where he was on point. For me, I didn’t have an agent at that time to talk for me and decide what’s a good fight for me and what isn’t. I fought who they wanted me to and I asked for the top guys. If you look at it now, in the top ten, I’ve fought about four of them: Miller, Edgar, Nate, Siver. I’ve never had an easy fight. I don’t like to explain that because either you know it or you don’t.
JL: You were pretty emotional at the press conference after your last fight. Some people were wondering if you were crying. Not because it brings your masculinity into question, or because grown men aren’t supposed to cry, but did you actually cry?
GM: I probably didn’t at the time just because I don’t want to show emotion. It all hit me hard and I think afterwards I cried a little bit. But at the press conference, I don’t want to show any emotion. I want to keep it under control -- that’s the business. But I did cry afterwards.
JL: What was the main talking point you read on the internet following your last fight that drove you nuts?
GM: I don’t read the internet. I’m being dead serious about that. One, I don’t read anything on forums because those are all just opinions. When you’re a positive person and you do what you love and you’re trying to accomplish your goals… you can’t look at that negative s***. No disrespect, but those are from people who don’t do s***. They aren’t doing anything with their lives anyway. So why would you try to deal with that? You have to live a happy life and know what you’re doing.
JL: So you don’t even bother with it.
GM: I listen to the people who count: the people in my camp and the people who are truthful. I will listen to bad criticism and good criticism if I know that the person cares about me and counts. I’m my own rock. I am the hardest guy on myself. Out of all the wins, I change my camp every f***ing time. I break down my tapes. It’s easy to win and say, “That’s a win so I’m going to keep on doing what I’ve been doing.” But go ahead and ask anyone at my gym who switches it up and they’ll say me. I want to know what’s wrong, so I can change it up. I feel that every time I fight I bring new stuff. I’ve evolved.
JL: How much sleep do you lose at night knowing that Anthony Pettis has to fight Clay Guida because of you?
GM: I sleep better. I mean, who has he fought? I’ve been in the trenches this whole time fighting the toughest guys. He throws one kick and then he’s the greatest in the world?
Let’s look at who he’s fought. Ben Henderson is the best name. And I don’t mind fighting him; I don’t care if I win the belt and then I have to take him on. But for me, guys like Miller, Melendez and all of these guys who have been on the f***ing grind, fighting the best competition for the past few years… that’s what I look at. Who have you fought? I don’t care about how good you looked when you fought a scrub. That doesn’t matter. If a guy isn’t good then you’re supposed to look good. And for me, [Pettis] has fought one good guy in Ben, and he isn’t proven yet. He’s tough as hell, but we’ll see.
JL: Who has better wrestling, you or Frankie Edgar? Pretend we’re back in college and we’re looking at your guys’ resumes. In a straight-up wrestling match, who wins?
GM: I have the better wrestling, guaranteed. He was a 141 pounder and I was two weight classes above him. I think he went to NCAAs, I was a three-time All-American.
JL: If you have better wrestling than Frankie Edgar then why was he the one taking you down in the rematch?
GM: It’s not that I was tired, but I had an adrenaline dump in the rematch. The first round really was an adrenaline dump. All of your goals and dreams are right there in front of you, you think you’re done, and then you’re drained. My cardio was great, but my arms were f***ing zapped. So I fought the last four rounds and that was probably half of what I was capable of. But I did screw the whole thing up. It was my fault.
The way the sport is going now, a guy gets groomed through small shows. It’s like boxing, where guys get blown up to where they are 18-0, 12 knockouts and some TKOs, then they start to get some big name guys. But for me, I fought two guys who are professionals in my first amateur fights. I fought Evan Dunham in my first amateur [fight], I fought professional in my second fight, and then Brent Weidman for my third, then the TV show. I’m still kind of new to all of this. What happened when I caught Frankie [Edgar] in the first round, that’s never happened to me before so I didn’t know what to do. Next time I will. It’s a learning process and I’m still learning.
JL: So you were roommates with Rashad [Evans] when you were in college. Was he the crazy one?
GM: What do you mean?
JL: I mean did he come into the dorm in the middle of the night on a weekday, surrounded by all of these girls, just getting back from some wild party?
GM: S*** man, a lot of people have Rashad wrong. He’s the most down-to-earth guy, unbelievably nice. Here’s an example: My mom loves horses. She will talk your friggin’ ear off about horses if you let her. Most people try to get out of it when she starts talking about them. [Rashad] has talked to my mom, and she brought up horses. He sat there and talked to her for two hours about horses, asking her questions and stuff. He’s one of the coolest guys I know. In college he was really cool, one of my best friends.
The ‘problem,’ though, is that Rashad likes to tell the truth in the media. Everyone likes to go the politician-route, the mother f***er who lies. People need to realize that if it’s too good to be true, it probably isn’t true. People who are real, they don’t like that. They like Hollywood these days. They like s*** that isn’t real. They get mad at him because he talks from the heart.
JL: Some people have noticed that Jon Jones has really taken after Rashad Evans. He’s been accused of taking Rashad’s title shot, his training camp, and apparently his style. Some people think he’s taking over Rashad’s life.
GM: Well, like I said, if it’s too good to be true then it usually isn’t. I mean, I’m not going to say nothing about nobody, but Rashad is my boy and he’s a real person. I like real people. I hate fake people. Absolutely hate them.
JL: Thanks for your time Gray.