Any time he steps into the Octagon, it's hard not to root for former UFC champion Frankie Edgar. The scrappy and tenacious fighter is lightning fast, extremely technical, and has more heart and grit than nearly any other athlete on the promotion's roster.
While Edgar has provided a ton of memorable moments over the years, and will likely do so once again at #UFC205, one of the ex-titleholder's greatest achievements came in his final matchup against bitter rival Gray Maynard at UFC 136. The bout was far from an easy contest for the then lightweight, but proved to be a career highlight once it was all said and done.
The epic third fight in this historic trilogy was the culmination of nearly three years of bad blood between Edgar and Maynard. Their rivalry began in 2008 at UFC Fight Night 13, when "The Bully" easily outwrestled "The Answer" to take the unanimous decision victory. The win may have ended Edgar's undefeated streak at the time, but it didn't halt his ascent to the 155 lb. title.
After going on to win and defend the lightweight belt against B.J. Penn, Edgar got a chance to avenge his loss to Maynard on New Year's Day in 2011 at UFC 125. Things got off to a rocky star for the New Jersey native, who was nearly KO'd in the first round. Miraculously, he was able to survive Maynard's onslaught and proceeded to outwork his opponent in the later rounds to force a rare draw decision.
Of course, the UFC had to run back the tape one last time on this exciting matchup, which is why fans were treated to a final Edgar vs. Maynard battle in Houston on October 8, 2011.
Much like their second meeting, the beginning of the bout saw Maynard once again nearly finish Edgar in the first round. For anyone who watched the fight live, it was extremely difficult to see "The Answer" go through another beatdown, and many thought he was done for sure going into round two. However, Edgar isn't the type of guy to quit just because he's taken dozens of punches to the dome.
As the fight went on, it was clear something clicked inside the battle-tested champ. Pouncing on Maynard's fatigue, Edgar was able to turn the tide again and forced his opponent into a bitter war of attrition as they traded blows and takedowns in the middle frames.
The fourth round, though, is where Edgar was finally able to vanquish his longtime foe. Despite all the blood, bumps, and bruises, he gutted out a victory by turning up the heat on Maynard, finishing him with a barrage of punches against the cage fence to score the brutal KO.
It was an emotional time for Edgar. All the people who doubted him and called his title into question due to his loss and tie to Maynard were finally silenced with a vicious punch face. Edgar could finally exhale as his skills as a champion were validated in front of the world.
Although "The Answer" has experienced several come from behind moments throughout his career, looking back at the third fight, it's clear that the exclamation point on his trilogy with Maynard will go down as one of the greatest MMA comebacks of all time. The kid has heart, and you've got to respect it.