Gray Maynard was once just another guy from the TV show. A skilled wrestler with some good one liners, he appeared to be head and shoulder above the rest of the TUF 5 cast in wrestling and he’ll be the first to admit looked inexperienced when it came to the complete MMA game. In just under 2 years Gray has emerged as the star of that season and will soon seriously be considered for a title shot with another win or two inside the Octagon. But he’s just taking his career one fight at a time.
At UFC 96 he’ll be facing the extremely dangerous 13-1 Jim Miller. Miller’s previous fight was an impressive win over TUF 5 cast member Matt Wiman at The Fight For the Troops in December. Wiman was on a roll winning his last 4 in the UFC. Miller took the fight on just 4 weeks’ notice and kept a pace Wiman couldn’t handle and won a dominating decision. If Miller can do that on 4 weeks notice just imagine what he can do with a full camp. This didn’t seem to faze Maynard, when we caught up with him at Xtreme Couture after a training session just one week away from UFC 96.
“In my opinion it was a very tough change up for Matt Wiman. You go from training a whole camp for an orthodox striker/wrestler, to a southpaw/jujitsu fighter, who is good. My hats off to Jim for winning the fight, but it’s also tough for the other guy who has all the pressure.”
At UFC 96 the pressure will be once again off Miller on his opponent. With a record of 6-0 and one of the best pound for pound wrestlers in the UFC, many mention Maynard in future title shot talk but Gray isn’t thinking about that. He shrugs it off.
“I’m just thinking one fight at a time. Jim is a good opponent. I need to put everything I have towards him.”
Maynard’s latest win over a 10 time UFC veteran Rich Clementi showed how improved Maynard had become. He took the Jui Jitsu expert to the mat several times and shook off his submission attempts with ease on his way to a decision at UFC 90. Miller and Clementi have similar skill sets and to prepare for UFC 96 Maynard is taking the same game plan.
“Of course I’m working with southpaws, jujitsu guys, and working my conditioning. It basically the same camp I had for Rich Clementi.”
Over the last 2 years Maynard has become one of the most improved fighters in the UFC. His wrestling is incredible, his submission defense outstanding and his striking is improving every match out.
“My whole goal is to become a better fighter with every fight, always push the pace and try to finish my opponent.”
Gray Maynard approaches fighting one step at a time. Beat Jim Miller and onto the next one. He doesn’t think about title shots or who his next opponent will be, which is one of the reasons he has been so successful. But whether he thinks about it or not, UFC 96 will go a long way in determining his future and his shot at the title.
And he may not have time to think about title shots for too long, as he may be standing across from one before he knows it.