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Las Vegan Maynard chasing UFC crown

Gray Maynard doesn’t view Saturday’s No. 1 contender bout against Kenny Florian much differently than any other UFC fight he has had, even if it is in Florian’s hometown of Boston.

“There’s only one other guy in the cage, and that’s Florian,” said Maynard, a 31-year-old Las Vegan. “Now, if the crowd jumps in and starts jumping me, yeah, it’s going to be a tough one. But I’ve only got Florian. I’ll tune (everything) out and take care of business.”

A victory would almost certainly give Maynard the next shot at the lightweight title, which Frankie Edgar defends against BJ Penn on Saturday night in the main event of UFC 118.

Maynard is 9-0 as a professional and has won seven straight Ultimate Fighting Championship bouts. But he’s failed to land a title shot, partly because he has won six in a row by decision.

One of those decisions came against Edgar, but Maynard said he doesn’t care whom he fights for the title.

“I’ve got Florian next, so I’ve got to take care of that. Then whoever has the belt, that’s who I care about. That’s who I want to fight. I don’t care if it’s Edgar, Penn, anyone,” he said.

Maynard indicated he’s not even interested in Saturday’s title fight, which should begin a little more than an hour after his bout ends.

“However it goes, I should know by the press conference who I’m going to fight,” he said. “That’s all I need to know.”

Maynard might have more interest in the co-main event, in which Randy Couture meets boxer James Toney. Maynard trains under the tutelage of Couture in Las Vegas at Xtreme Couture.

■ STRIKEFORCE — Two highly touted Strikeforce fighters suffered their first defeats Saturday night in Houston.

Light heavyweight champion Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal was knocked out by Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante in the third round of the main event.

Cavalcante rocked Lawal with a knee and a right hook, then pounded away with elbows as the champion grasped at Cavalcante’s leg in a desperate attempt at a takedown.

Former WWE superstar Bobby Lashley also suffered his first mixed martial arts loss to Chad Griggs, but the bout was controversial.

Lashley was in full mount, one of the most dominant positions in MMA, but referee Jon Schorle instructed the fighters to stand up because of inactivity with 33 seconds left in the second round.

Before the fight was restarted, a doctor was called in to examine a cut under Lashley’s eye.

Griggs then stopped a poor takedown attempt by Lashley and pounded away on the side of his head until the bell sounded. Lashley struggled to return to his corner. Schorle ruled Lashley could not continue.

Also on the card, Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza won the vacant middleweight title with a decision over Tim Kennedy, and K.J. Noons knocked out Jorge Gurgel.

Strikeforce announced it will return to Showtime with an Oct. 9 card in San Jose, Calif., featuring welterweight champion Nick Diaz and women’s 135-pound champion Sarah Kaufman.

An opponent for Diaz has not been named, but Kaufman will fight Marloes Coenen.

■ WEC TO PHOENIX — World Extreme Cagefighting will take an event to Phoenix on Dec. 16 after the city beat out fellow finalists Milwaukee and Nashville, Tenn., from a field of 30 to win the voting in the “Hometown Takedown” promotion.

AMP Energy gave voters the opportunity to select the site of the Las Vegas-based organization’s December event.

The card, likely to be WEC 53 and include lightweight champion and Arizona resident Ben Henderson, will take place at Jobing.com Arena in Glendale, Ariz.

Contact reporter Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com or 702-224-5509.

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