Fans win, Pettis loses in Edgar-Maynard draw
So nobody won Saturday night's thoroughly entertaining UFC main event between lightweight champ Frankie Edgar and challenger Gray Maynard, but one guy loses:
At the last-ever WEC event on Dec. 16 Pettis dethroned 155-pound champ Ben Henderson, a win that was supposed to guarantee him a shot at the Edgar-Maynard winner once the UFC absorbs the WEC and all its weight classes. But the New Year's Night draw means a title shot for Pettis and his Matrix Kick will have to wait until the UFC settles the dispute Maynard and Edgar couldn't quite resolve in the Octagon.
For 25 minutes Edgar and Maynard traded strikes, takedowns and respect, and their entertaining main event put officials back in the spotlight by presenting the question that dogs anybody judges a fight anywhere:
Who do you favour -- the guy who wins more rounds or the guy who wins rounds by more?
Two weeks earlier the issue popped up in the boxing ring, when 45-year-old Bernard Hopkins battled back from a pair of early knockdowns to earn a draw against Montreal's Jean Pascal in a bout many people (including me) thought Hopkins won.
Saturday night judges stared down the same dilemma when Edgar weathered a first-round Maynard onslaught many spectators (including me) thought would do him in.
Midway through the first round Maynard, who decisioned Edgar in 2008, dropped the champ with a left hook and spent the rest of the round battering Edgar with his fists, bloodying his nose and keeping him woozy until the final bell.
But when the second round started Edgar emerged from his corner refreshed, punctuating his comeback by nailing Maynard with a powerslam that would make Davey Boy Smith proud.
From there Edgar spent the remainder of the fight chipping away at Maynard, stopping the takedowns that made Maynard so successful in their first fight, whiplashing the challenger's head with crisp combinations and earning a split decision draw at the end of five rounds.
Post-fight shots of Edgar in the locker room showed him looking despondent, but this result didn't feel to me like a robbery.
It felt like a relief.
When we learned Hopkins and Pascal had drawn you felt a slight sense of injustice. Pascal's first knockdown, after all, came when he landed an illegal blow to the back of Hopkins' head and thus should have earned him a warning and not a reward. And Hopkins' body attack gutted Pascal, sapping the champion of all his early speed and forcing him into full retreat by round eight.
Hopkins won more rounds and won them convincingly yet could only salvage a draw. Given Pascal's massive early lead you can't say Hopkins was outright robbed, but he sure was jobbed and now will have to wait for a rematch that may never happen.
Edgar, meanwhile, appeared certain to lose by first-round TKO, and earned a moral victory by simply surviving until the second frame.
One judge said Edgar did it, giving him a win by two points. A second judge scored it 48-46 Maynard, while the third sealed a split-decision draw by calling the bout even.
That third scorecard also all but ensures Edgar and Maynard will add a third chapter to a series in which the stakes and skill levels rise with each bout.
In that scenario fight fans can't help but win even if Pettis loses.
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