With an unblemished record that includes five wins in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, Gray Maynard could be excused for looking ahead to a potential shot at the lightweight title.
But the 29-year-old Las Vegan insists he is focused only on Jim Miller, whom Maynard will fight on a UFC card in Columbus, Ohio, on Saturday.
“My eyes are set on Jim,” Maynard said. “Until Saturday, that’s it. I’m concentrating on him.”
Maynard said he thinks his success has enabled him to enter the discussion when it comes to lightweight contenders but that he’s still working his way up.
“I’m just a guy trying to make it,” he said. “There’s probably a group of maybe eight to 10 who are really tough, and you just have to keep going until you get to whoever’s on top.”
The fighter who is on top now is well known to Maynard. Current champion BJ Penn hired him as a sparring partner just after Maynard’s collegiate wrestling career at Michigan State ended, then served as Maynard’s coach on “The Ultimate Fighter.”
Still, Maynard says he wouldn’t hesitate to take on Penn. “He’s a great guy, but if I have a chance, I’ll fight him for sure,” Maynard said.
Saturday’s fight is part of a pay-per-view broadcast that includes a light heavyweight bout between Keith Jardine and ex-champion Quinton Jackson.
• LESNAR-MIR II SET — Brock Lesnar and Frank Mir will meet to unify UFC heavyweight title May 23 at the MGM Grand.
Lesnar earned the belt by beating former champion Randy Couture in November, and Mir took the interim crown when he stopped Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira in December.
Mir beat Lesnar by submission 1:30 into their first meeting, but Lesnar had pummeled the Las Vegan for essentially the entire fight before being caught in a leg lock.
Tickets for the rematch go on sale to the general public at 10 a.m. Saturday.
• BROWN RETAINS TITLE — Mike Brown was successful in the first defense of his World Extreme Cagefighting featherweight title Sunday night.
Brown, who won the title from Urijah Faber in November, scored a dominant first-round submission victory over Leonard Garcia in the main event of a card in Corpus Christi, Texas.
Also, Rob McCullough scored a unanimous decision over Marcus Hicks.
Contact reporter Adam Hill at ahill@ reviewjournal.com or 702-224-5509.