(“The Bully” bangs with Jim Miller.)
On Sept. 16, Gray Maynard expects to be the bull “El Matador” can’t handle, drawing the cheers of the crowd, stealing Roger Huerta’s star and making it his own.
“That’s why I’m taking the fight,” said the former Michigan State University wrestler.
Once upon a time, Roger Huerta was a contender, poised for superstardom before his loss to Kenny Florian at UFC 87 in August 2008. The loss made him revaluate his place in mixed martial arts, prompting him to announce a foray into modeling and acting after fulfilling the last fight on his contract. That fight—more than one year later—is against Gray Maynard at UFC Fight Night 19, at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City, Okla.
Maynard has chipped away at the lightweight division en route to a five-fight UFC win streak and a 7-0-1 record overall. Now, he is a contender and rising star thanks to a pulverizing performance of Jim Miller at UFC 96 in March and Huerta is somewhat starting over due to the loss and inactivity. With Huerta seemingly leaving fighting for films, Maynard doesn’t worry about becoming a star but he does worry about being a contender. So he’s not taking Huerta (20-2-1) lightly.
“You know what, you can’t take away his heart, you know what I’m saying? Trust me, I would kinda tell you if its like ah, he wasn’t into it and stuff like that. But you can’t take away his heart—he gets after it, you know,” said Maynard.
“Maybe technically, I haven’t seen too much of him, like, improve, but he does have heart and he brings it. I’m not training to have a close one, you know,” Maynard continued. “Obviously, I don’t…I don’t kinda understand, ‘Yeah, its gonna be the bloodiest scrap of the night,’ Fuck, I’m training to whip this dude’s ass but I’m prepared for however. If it’s close it’s close, but I’m not training to do that. I’m training to win. And that’s the way to do that.”
The thirty-year-old Xtreme Couture fighter doesn’t have time to act with three eight week fight camps a year and being in the gym to help training partners too. Only a three-year veteran of the sport, Maynard credits boxing coach Gil Martinez, who he’s been working under for roughly 18 months, for the improved stand-up game he displayed against Miller. But popular perception is that because of his size and wrestling pedigree, Maynard was chosen to send Huerta packing with a boring loss. But “The Bully” isn’t attaching any special significance to the fight.
“Straight business. Business transaction, that’s how I look at it as,” Maynaird said. “I train, scrap, then its over, I get paid, and who’s next?”