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Gray Maynard ‘obsessed’ with beating Frankie Edgar at UFC 136

Draw and delay only further motivated Las Vegas-based lightweight

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Gray Maynard chases Frankie Edgar to the fence during the first round of their lightweight title fight during UFC 125 Saturday, January 1, 2011 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Maynard and Edgar fought to a draw.

UFC 125 - Edgar vs. Maynard

Gray Maynard reacts to the announcement of a draw against Frankie Edgar in their lightweight title fight during UFC 125 Saturday, January 1, 2011 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Launch slideshow »

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Frankie Edgar revealed in recent interviews that he was tired of the lingering build-up associated with his fight against Gray Maynard.

It’s safe to say that Maynard, the Las Vegas-based challenger to Edgar’s lightweight championship belt, doesn’t feel the same. Maynard said he had become “obsessed” with beating Edgar since the two fought to a draw at UFC 125 in January.

“Usually after you’re done, you take a nice little trip to wherever,” Maynard said. “Go to a cool place, have some beers and do a lot of media. For me, it’s just been ‘how do I train for this?’ This is all I’ve cared about.”

Maynard faces Edgar for the third time — the first came at UFC Fight Night 13 in 2008 when Maynard won via unanimous decision — in the main event of next week’s UFC 136 fight card in Houston. It will resolve a matchup the UFC first booked more than a year ago.

Edgar and Maynard took four months to prepare for their bout that ended in a draw. Injuries to both men scratched a scheduled UFC 130 rematch three weeks before the fight.

The delays have changed Maynard’s demeanor. He’s no longer solely motivated by winning a title. Maynard is also mad.

“My emotions haven’t changed towards him,” Maynard said. “It’s just about what happened and how it played out. I want to get what I deserve. That’s the belt. Now, I am kind of pissed.”

As angry as Maynard was about the draw — he still believes he won the fight — the cancellation in May only added fuel. Although he was mired in a training camp that “wasn’t going so great,” Maynard couldn’t imagine waiting any longer for his second shot at the belt.

That’s why he planned to fight through a few nagging injuries before he received the call that Edgar was hurt and out of the bout. It likely worked out for the best, as Maynard can now be 100 percent in Houston, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t hurt.

Maynard could barely deal with the thought of not fighting at UFC 130. He slipped out of Las Vegas to clear his mind and headed to a farm outside of East Lansing, Mich., where he went to college at Michigan State.

“I went out to see my sister and brother-in-law and their kids and just hung out about a week,” Maynard said. “We just tried to kick back on the farm.”

Maynard was out for an extra month after the getaway nursing injuries. He said he underwent a minor scope procedure on his elbow.

When he got back into the Xtreme Couture gym, Maynard said he found it easier to prepare for Edgar than either of the first two camps.

“I have a lot more fire and intensity,” he said. “I don’t care about anything else.”

His game plan has only slightly changed for the third go-around with Edgar. Both fighters know what the other is capable of after spending 40 minutes in the octagon together.

And Maynard says he knows he will beat Edgar. In his opinion, it will be for the third straight time.

“I’m in there for the moment,” he said. “For me, a draw is almost like a loss. He has the belt and I’ve been pumped ever since to get back in there.”

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

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