After initially deciding to go forward with a Frankie Edgar/Anthony Pettis UFC lightweight championship bout, UFC president Dana White nearly immediately changed his mind, telling multiple sources following Saturday's "UFC 125: Resolution" that Gray Maynard, who fought Edgar to a split draw Saturday, will receive an immediate rematch.
When it first came out that Pettis would receive the next shot, I was mystified. Recently, the UFC has built a culture of immediate rematches for close or controversial title fights, giving Mauricio Rua an immediate shot at Lyoto Machida, B.J. Penn another crack at Edgar and Chael Sonnen was to get another chance against Anderson Silva before his suspension. For Maynard to not receive an immediate rematch would've been a huge slap in the face of Maynard after he put on a stirring performance, one that he easily could've won.
Maynard put on arguably the best effort of his career, one that was good enough to be positive about, but one that also showed us that he has some work to do. If Maynard gets another crack at Edgar, I'd fully expect him to not make some of the same mistakes he made here. His inexperience in finishing fights certainly showed in the first round, as he couldn't put Edgar away when he had him down and nearly out. That's something that can be improved upon. The most glaring gaffe, though, was Maynard squandering the second round and allowing Edgar to get right back into the fight. There's no doubt Maynard slowed down a tad, as well, but I'd expect that to be rectified.
Maynard, though, for all he did right, absolutely let Edgar off the hook. No doubt about it whatsoever. Still, this is a good learning experience for Maynard.
Edgar has a lot to prove in the rematch, as well. He hasn't beaten Gray Maynard in two tries now. He was hurt badly for the first time in his career, and even though he overcame it to go the full five rounds, it prevented him from winning the fight.
This is a prudent rematch for both fighters and the company. Expectations weren't high for this fight and both fighters came in and put on better performances than I think many expected. A lot of people expected a dull fight. This was anything but. This had a ton of intrigue, as, after the second round, you could sense this one might be going to the cards and every move was going to be important. Both fighters deserve the chance to fight each other again. The UFC absolutely made the right call in setting up this fight.
Pettis won't be affected by this. It's a bummer, but even though he's not getting the next shot, he's still getting the Edgar/Maynard winner. That doesn't change. Plus, Pettis fought four times in 2010. He deserves some time off and, with White saying he wants to this rematch as soon as possible, will only hold Pettis off until the summer, one would think. His next fight will be for the title. Pettis is hot right now. He's not going to get passed by. He'll get his shot. The people would riot if it didn't happen after his gripping effort against Ben Henderson.
What this situation is unfortunate for is the division's other top contenders. Fighters like George Sotiropoulos, Jim Miller and Evan Dunham all are at the cusp of a title shot and each likely will fight two more times before getting a title shot. However, that might not be all bad as it could let the rut of contenders at the top sort itself out without leaving a mess of a situation.
Here's what I don't want to see, though: Edgar and Maynard as coaches on "The Ultimate Fighter 13." For one, neither of them have the personality to drive a television show for that many weeks. On top of that, you're putting Pettis on ice for much longer than he needs to be. Pettis would be looking at nearly a year layoff should those two coach "TUF." That's too long for a young fighter to be off and they would be doing him a disservice if that happens.
In the end, the situation will sort it self out. Unless Edgar/Maynard III is a draw, that is.