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UFC 125:

Revenge on Frankie Edgar’s mind heading into fight with Gray Maynard

Maynard gave Edgar’s MMA record its only blemish

Image

Gregory Payan / AP

Frankie Edgar, top, in action against BJ Penn during their lightweight title fight on Saturday, August 28, 2010, at the TD Garden in Boston. Edgar retained his title via unanimous decision.

Frankie Edgar doesn't want to decide what's more important to him - defending his UFC lightweight championship or avenging his only career loss.

Luckily for Edgar, UFC 125 this weekend at the MGM Grand Garden Arena renders the question moot. Edgar (13-1) has a shot to do both in the Main Event bout against Gray Maynard (11-0).

"It's a perfect opportunity for me to avenge a loss and defend my title for the second time in a row — all in the same night — and start the year off right," Edgar said on a recent teleconference. "I want to start this year off with a bang."

It's going to be tough for Edgar to top the year he put together in 2010. He upset UFC legend B.J. Penn twice, once to capture the championship belt and once to defend it.

Now, Edgar believes he can hold onto the title for a long time if he can defeat Maynard. The notion isn't that far-fetched, considering Maynard is the only fighter to have given Edgar trouble.

Maynard wore him down in a Fight Night card in April 2008 and scored a unanimous-decision victory. But Edgar feels that fight will barely factor into this weekend's rematch.

Edgar said that defeat forced him to become better in all areas.

"I just think I grew as a fighter," Edgar said. "Mentally and physically, I think I possess different skills. My boxing got better. My jiu-jitsu got better. I just have much more experience now."

Maynard predictably disagreed with downplaying the first bout. He said not much would change.

Maynard beat Edgar the first time around by scoring a number of takedowns throughout the three rounds. Maynard said it wouldn't matter whether this weekend's fight featured more striking or went to the ground.

He can win either way.

"He's talking about revenge. I'm the one getting revenge," Maynard said. "He's got everything that I should have, that I want. I've got to go get it now."

Edgar reeled off three consecutive victories after the loss to Maynard before receiving his title fight. Maynard kept winning, too, but never got the elusive opportunity to compete for a belt.

He's not complaining. Maynard said everything worked out perfectly with UFC 125. The winner of the fight will advance to a unification bout for the lightweight title against Anthony Pettis, who defeated Ben Henderson in WEC's final card this month.

While Edgar never would admit to looking ahead, he openly described his dream of transcending to the top of the sport by repeatedly defending his belt.

"I always wanted to be No. 1, and I never got to achieve it," Edgar said. "Now, I tasted it and I know what it tastes like. I don't want to give it up. I'm going to go in there as a ball of fire, non-stop movement and walk away the champion."

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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