Frankie Edgar Faces Divisional Conundrum
Collin Van Ooyen / August 16, 2012 - 11:00am
The second Benson Henderson was announced as the winner of a too-close-to-call split decision over Frankie Edgar at UFC 150, speculation once again exploded about “The Answer” possibly dropping down in weight. It’s a question that’s been raised at several times during Edgar’s career, and after losing a second consecutive decision to the champ, “Mr. Rematch” was told that another immediate shot at the belt was not in the cards. So Edgar is left with many questions as he picks up the pieces after a title fight that many fans and critics had him winning. Does he have it in him to take another run at the lightweight belt? What would a path back to a title shot entail? And how does he match up against the best of the best in some of the lighter weight classes?
Mark Henry, Edgar’s boxing coach, stated recently in an interview with Fight Club Radio that he has been urging Edgar to make the drop in weight for some time now and that he believes Edgar could be a future three division champ. Edgar is in the unique position of walking around at fight weight (155 lbs) on a day-to-day basis, year-round. That’s unfathomable for the majority of fighters who cut as much as 20 lbs or more in the days leading up to the weigh-ins. That means that Edgar routinely fights guys that are essentially a full weight class above him on fight night. Theoretically, feather or bantamweight should be a much more natural size for him, however, try selling that notion to a former lightweight champ who just came within a whisper’s distance of winning his belt back.
Dana White stated vehemently after UFC 150 that if Frankie Edgar wants another shot at the 155 lbs strap, he’ll have to get back in line to do so, meaning he’d be bumped down to at least fifth in the lightweight rankings. Edgar would likely be a minimum of two fights away from another title shot, and would also have to look impressive in those wins. A look at the standings suggests that he would probably face the likes of Clay Guida or Joe Lauzon in his next lightweight matchup. Beyond that he’d be looking at the winner of Donald Cerrone/Anthony Pettis, a fourth fight with Gray Maynard, or the loser of the announced Henderson/Diaz title fight. Those are almost all favorable matchups for Edgar, and it is within the realm of possibility that he could make it back into the title picture within two years or so. Two years, however, is a long time to wait, and his path to a title would likely look far different at a lighter weight.
Outside of Jose Aldo and Chad Mendes, the featherweight division is relatively starved for a fighter with some draw power. In October, Aldo squares off with Erik Koch, the world’s 16th ranked featherweight. That’s hardly a title fight that the world is dying to see. Edgar has the credentials and the skill level to walk right into a title fight at 145 lbs. The timing for that may be a little off, as Edgar would likely be looking at upwards to six months waiting for a Jose Aldo fight. A bout with a top end guy like Chad Mendes, Ricardo Lamas, or the winner of the Dennis Siver/Eddie Yagin fight would likely be on deck before Edgar could be placed into the title picture. Even with the awkward timing, Edgar’s path to gold seems much simpler at featherweight.
Bantamweight also provides Edgar with some unique opportunities, not just with a simpler route to the title, but with some big name bouts as well. 135 lbs is a weight class that Edgar instantly walks into as a top five fighter. Renan Barão already lays claim to the number one contender’s spot, and will wait it out for his shot at injured champ Dominick Cruz. That means that if Edgar is to make a run at bantamweight then he’ll have to get through at least one top fighter first. A look at the UFC’s top 135-pounders suggests that Edgar would find himself squared off with the likes of Raphael Assunçao, Michael McDonald, or a bona fide main event calibre fight against Urijah Faber. A win over Faber would certainly put Edgar next in line for the winner of the Barão/Cruz title fight, and would provide him with a shot at becoming only the third multi-weight class titleholder in UFC history.
It’s that thinner talent pool at the lower weight classes that has Henry convinced that Edgar could legitimately pull off the historical feat. “I'd love to see him have three belts, three different weight classes and be the first ever to do it," says Henry. It’s not a crazy notion either. If Edgar were able to land a belt within one or two fights, then defend that belt once or twice before jumping weights again, he could potentially be the first ever triple-weight-class titleholder in UFC history, and he could do it inside the span of just two years.
Making history is all well and good for most people, but MMA fighters are a proud bunch. There’s still a very real possibility that Edgar may simply be hell bent on avenging his back-to-back losses to Henderson. Lightweight might be the most stacked weight class in the UFC, but Edgar has also proven himself over and over again inside of the sport’s toughest division. He’s given us some of MMA’s most memorable matchups over the last few years, and wherever he finally decides to continue his career, he’s guaranteed to be a threat.