Gray (The Bully) Maynard has been on a slow burn since his draw with lightweight champion Frankie (The Answer) Edgar at UFC 125 on Jan. 1.
"Yeah it's been a slow burn, but the flame is hot now, for sure," Maynard told The Canadian Press. "So I'm ready to go."
The two elite 155-pounders face off Oct. 8 at Houston's Toyota Centre.
Maynard was in a dark place after UFC 125 following a fight that one judge scored 48-46 for him, another 48-46 for Edgar while the third saw it 47-47.
He thought he had deserved the win, plus UFC president Dana White rubbed salt into the wound at the post-fight news conference by sticking with the original plan — to have the champion defend his title against WEC title-holder Anthony (Showtime) Pettis.
White quickly changed his mind, calling Maynard with the news of a rematch later that night.
"It was a happy time for me," he said of White's call. "That was a crazy night. It was a roller-coaster for sure. And I appreciate him (changing his mind). I think I even told him I loved him on the phone. There was a long pause after that."
"Obviously it was pretty painful, the draw. But just to know that I had another opportunity kept me going," he added.
Opportunity was supposed to knock May 28 at UFC 128 but both men were injured in training. The fight was delayed another four months as a result.
Edgar (13-1-1) hurt his back while Maynard had knee and elbow problems. Neither wanted to postpone, but it seemed to make sense with both facing medical issues.
Maynard (11-0-1 with one no contest) saw the positives in the extra time.
"I'm just really happy about it, just being more prepared and more prepared. A lot of people ask me if I get nervous before a fight and I tell them if I'm prepared, I don't. There's no nerves for this fight, for sure."
The 32-year-old Maynard had bided his time for his original title shot, a wait that seemed longer because he had already beaten Edgar — by decision in April 2008. But that was before Edgar upset B.J. Penn at UFC 112 for the title and then beat Penn even more convincingly in their UFC 118 rematch.
Maynard-Edgar II was unfinished business. Going into UFC 125, Edgar acknowledged his record was "13 (wins) and Gray Maynard.''
And it looked like another loss was in the pipeline when Maynard dominated the first round, knocking Edgar over repeatedly like a wonky bowling pin. Montreal referee Yves Lavigne let it go, however, and Edgar somehow survived.
According to FightMetric, Maynard scored 25 significant strikes in the first round to 10 for Edgar. But the smaller champion rebounded, using his speed and technique to reassert himself.
Maynard, paying the price for his first-round expenditure in energy, managed just six significant strikes in the second round to 21 for Edgar and the champion led the category 95-71 at the end of the fight.
Asked what he learned from watching tape of the fight, Maynard said there's no shortage of "angles to dissect."
"If you have an hour, then I'll go into it," he added dryly.
Maynard, a former Michigan State wrestler who now calls Las Vegas home, admits he has focused on the championship belt ever since.
"I think my girl, my parents, everyone around me, they're a little bit kind of like "Man, he's obsessed,'" he said with a laugh.
"They're waiting for it to get over. But me, I'm pumped for it to start. I want to enjoy it."
When the bell finally sounds, the emotional floodgates may open for Maynard.
"I'm going to try to keep them in check but I think they're going to come out. I really do. It's been brewing for a long time. And I'm only human."