A lot of people have asked me if I feel like the uncrowned champion, because I beat Edgar and Edgar has to beat me to prove that he’s the ‘real champ’. I appreciate the thought, but there’s no question Frankie is the real champ and I have to beat him next weekend.
In this sport, you don’t have to beat everyone in the division and they work out your won/loss/draw ratio at the end of the season. In this sport, you beat the champion, and that makes you the champion. And Frankie Edgar beat the champion – BJ Penn – twice. That makes him Number One and he has nothing to prove against me at all other than what we have to do in the Octagon on New Year’s Day.
The next thing I get asked about a lot is if I am pissed that Frankie got the title shot ahead of me, even though I beat him. I’m not. I just don’t think like that. It will all work out. I don’t go into this sort of mental second guessing ‘Oh, why did they pass me up? Why did this happen? It’s not right!’ I don’t do that.
Frankie deserved his shot, and I deserve mine.
Some people say ‘But beating BJ Penn for the belt means more than beating Edgar’. Well, OK, really? Because Edgar beat Penn twice, and who knows if Penn will come back down to 155 pounds to fight me when I win the title. I can only pay attention to who I have in front of me; and right now that’s Frank Edgar. I want to hold the belt for years, and beat all sorts of guys, so it will work out.
I am ready. No disrespect to Frankie, he’s a great champion and a gentleman and I respect him professionally and personally. But he’s losing that belt and is going to be ‘one and done’ with the championship.
Nothing personal, it is just the sport. I’m not one of these fighters who feels he has to invent a reason to hate a guy just to motivate himself to drive past the burger bar and to the gym each day. Winning, getting closer to the title, winning the title, defending the title and becoming eventually known as a great in the sport is what motivates me.
I don’t need to know if you’re a bad guy, a good guy, or whatever. If you sign to fight me you are getting the best version of me I can become in the gym, and I will come to beat you as bad as I can, good guy or not.
If someone is an idiot and I want to beat him extra bad, hey, great, but I don’t need to convince myself that someone is an idiot if they aren’t. I train very hard either way and I am always trying to get better.
I think the fans are ready for a big fight between guys like me and Frankie, who don’t smack talk but will go in there and fight their hearts out without stupid and fake smack talk.
How many letdowns have we seen from these smack-talkers anyway? You can hype a fight up, you can talk a lot of crap, say you’re gonna score a brutal KO, beat someone so bad, but then you gotta go and do all that and if you don’t you look like a clown. How many times have these smack talkers gone out and done nothing like what they kept saying they were going to do?
If you don’t hate your opponent, don’t try to tell the fans that you do just for hype. You just make an ass of yourself, especially if right after the fight you are all ‘Hey, I was just hyping the fight I didn’t mean any of those things I said’. That’s admitting to the fans you lied to them and acted like a clown just for the attention before the fight, that you were following a script you wrote for yourself.
There’s no scripts with me. I hope the sport doesn’t go to where everyone is expected to smack talk. This is the UFC, not Jersey Shore. I’m not a gimmick. I got to the number one contender spot by being me, no frills, just hard work.
And in less than two weeks, I’ll be the UFC Lightweight Champion of the World.
For more info on Gray, visit his website at: www.graymaynard.com
Gray Maynard was talking with Ant Evans