No Tramp Stamps Allowed
I'll never forget the first time I saw Gray Maynard on TUF, and my subsequent surprise when I saw that damn tramp stamp.
Any respect I had for Maynard or his game went out the window at that point, as I still haven't understood the thinking behind that one.
Surely this has to be the result of a drunken bet that Maynard was on the wrong end of. We've all been there.
But a tramp stamp? Holy moly.
How would that night start? Hey Maynard, let's get some Everclear buddy... I'm sure the infamous Sharpie moustache's also made an appearance.
Either way, Kenny Florian will be looking to knock the taste... the tramp stamp off of Maynard at UFC 118 this coming Saturday night, and restablish himself as a top contender for the lightweight strap.
Florian will be trying to notch his third win in a row after losing his championship campaign against B.J. Penn at UFC 101, while Maynard will put his current 9 fight win streak on the line, yet to be stopped aside from knocking himself out.
I had been patiently waiting for the day to come when Florian would be able to move one step closer to another shot at the lightweight title, and the fact he has to go through Maynard to do it makes it that much sweeter.
Kenny's progression from a relative newbie to the world of MMA into a very dangerous fighter has been well documented. His work ethic. His potent BJJ skills. His standup going from nothing great to very technical and crisp. These are all reasons "KenFlo" will be victorious.
I don't think Florian is too fond of the tramp stamp either.
"One thing that needs to be made clear is Gray's the one who asked for this fight. He's the one that called out the winner of [mine and Gomi's] fight," said Florian.
How does Florian feel about being able to finally settle the score on a fight that has been rumored and discussed on the forums for many months?
"He was pretty quiet as far as wanting to get the belt at first, seems like he didn't want to fight B.J. or Frankie or whatever, and then all of a sudden when Frankie won it seems like he started to get real cocky, or started trying to make a name for himself," said Florian. "I don't know, it seems like he got cocky over night, all of a sudden."
Get ready for those elbows Gray.
Kenny put on his color commentator hat as he broke down how Maynard got here.
"It's motivating for me," said Florian. "I don't see any reason for him to be cocky. He's had decisions over guys. He hasn't finished anyone of note. He's squeaking by on these decisions, yet he's talking like he's already a world champion. I don't really understand where the cockiness is coming from. In those decisions he had against Roger Huerta, I thought he probably won it, against Nate Diaz, he barely won it, but I could have seen it going the other way.
"So these are fights to me, I don't think he was very impressive. Maybe it's because he feels obviously he has a win over Frankie, but it just seems like he got very verbal and very cocky, so I'm looking forward to going out there and fighting him. I think he's fought tough guys, but he hasn't fought anybody like me. I think he's looking past me. I think he thinks he's already going to fight for the title or he's already won the title.
"I'm looking forward to it," said "Ken-Flo." "One of my favorite things to do is spoiling a party, so I'm looking forward to doing that."
And Maynard's take? Any pressure being one win away from a title shot most likely?
“There’s no added pressure but that’s what I’m going to do. That’s all I can do and there’s no other choice. I think he’s the last step to a title shot. It’s a fight and I’m prepared. I have Florian and then I’ll deal with whatever comes next.”
Maynard is feeling all the pressure in this fight, no matter what he says.He has been patiently knocking off everybody the UFC has put in front of him. He can taste the leather grain of that belt. He knows losing to Florian will drop him quite a few rungs down the ladder of lightweight contenders.
Maynard recently spoke about what he see's Florian bringing to the table on August 28th.
“In my opinion he has shown that when things are going good, he feels good and keeps moving. Against Penn and Sherk, when he realized he was in a tough scrap, he didn’t really know how to deal with it and changed his plans. I’m not going out there just to go…I’m planning on a scrap and I hope he is too. I’m coming out to go three rounds hard and there is zero quit in me. When the going gets tough….well he better plan on getting going because it’s going to be tough. It’s going to be a scrap and I’ve had them all…close ones, tough ones and I guarantee that I’m going three rounds hard and I hope he’s planning on that because if not then he’s making a mistake.”
I honestly think Florian might be right when he talks about Maynard possibly looking past him. He surely sees himself as the bigger, stronger, better grappler who will be able to push Florian around the cage at will.
Sounds like the same mantra that Kenny has faced his whole career in this sport filled with Maynard's.
The thing about Kenny, is that he is constantly evolving and adding more tricks to his overall game, always adapting to the style of whatever fighter he is currently training for.
This fight rounds out an awesome card, and although the Couture vs. Toney fight has been getting all the press leading up to the fight, this is truly one for the fans.
Also check out: http://www.colorado-mma-colorado-boxing.com/2012/01/margaret-blooms-wy-mma-blog.html.