On April 10, 2010 at UFC 112, Frankie “The Answer” Edgar Vs “The Prodigy” BJ Penn. Edgar a huge underdog. Then it happened… BJ Penn never saw it coming.
That is how the legend of Frankie Edgar will begin when it’s all said and done. At 12-1 facing the reigning champion at 155lbs and one of the pound for pound best, BJ Penn. Edgar was a heavy Vegas underdog and while many expected an exciting battle, none seriously thought that the up and coming Edgar could defeat the dominant champion. That night in Abu Dhabi, that’s exactly what happened. A 5 round war that ended with “The Answer” defeating “The Prodigy” via decision. An upset that might not rank as one of the sport’s most dramatic but an upset nonetheless.
The fight would go back and forth. Both fighters having big moments. A classic battle of a wills. Neither fighter taking a step backwards. At the end, Frankie Edgar was announced as the new UFC’s 155lb champion.
The rematch would take place just four months later in Boston, MA. Unlike the first time they battled, this time it was Penn on the defensive. Edgar kept the pressure on and controlled the 5 round battle. Proving that the fight just months earlier was no fluke. That “The Answer” was now more than just a flash. No longer a question mark. Frankie Edgar that night on August 10, 2010, would control and at times dominate that former champion BJ Penn.
That’s all how the Frankie Edgar story will likely begin. Though, much like the man himself, there are many tales in the story of Edgar. Many battles. Many decisions. Decisions might be the key word.
Much like boxing’s Manny Pacquiao vs Juan Manuel Marquez series, MMA too would have it’s own war series. Frankie Edgar vs Gray Maynard. Maynard was the thorn and the bump in the road on Edgar’s path to the top. Back in April of 2008, the two met and the result was Maynard handing the previous undefeated Edgar his first loss.
Fast forward to New Year’s Day of 2011. Now champion, Frankie Edgar taking on the only man to hand him a defeat. His only blemish on his record book. Gray Maynard and Frankie Edgar’s story was just beginning. That night, both men would fight, not backing up a step. Toe to toe. No winner. No loser. A draw. After 2 fights, 8 rounds… Edgar could not escape the dark cloud hanging over his career named Gray Maynard.
It would be 10 months until the two men would finally settle their battle once and for all. On October 8, 2011 at UFC 136 in Houston, TX, Frankie Edgar would put some finality to the series. Out to prove himself yet again, Edgar would KO Maynard in the 4th round of their fight. Putting an end. No more questions. Frankie Edgar was the undisputed king of the 155lb division of the UFC.
Those two series of fights, the Maynard and Penn fights, would be enough for any MMA fighter to tell a lifetime of stories about. You would even be right. However, Frankie Edgar is not just any MMA fighter.
On February 26, 2012 at UFC 144 in Japan, Frankie would once again find himself in the middle of a tough, 5 round controversial decision. This time, the results were different. That night, it was Benson Henderson who would take Edgar’s title away. A close fight that could have gone either way. It was Henderson however that had the bigger shots, the more dominating moments. Edgar was more in his face and pushing the pace but in the end the judges gave the decision and the belt to Benson Henderson.
Now it was Edgar’s turn… Go home, regroup and come back strong. That is exactly what Edgar did, but at UFC 150 that August in Denver, CO it was not enough. Once again, another 5 round war did not go Edgar’s way. Henderson won a split-decision. More controversy and another close decision. Edgar left the cage without his gold yet one more time.
For quite a while, UFC head Dana White had been pressuring the smaller Edgar to take a weight cut. Fight at 145lb. Now with 2 straight losses to now champion Benson Henderson, Edgar finally went down to 145lbs to pursue better opportunities.
At 155lbs, Edgar would have had to go to the back of a crowded pack. There are a ton of contenders at 155. However, the field is much more shallow at 145. With Champion Jose Also dominant. Contenders have come and gone. After an injury to Aldo (riding a motorcycle) pushed his fight back and later canceled, it created an opening for Edgar. On February 2nd Edgar would go on to challenge champion Jose Aldo at UFC 156 in Las Vegas, NV.
Edgar, who had fought 29 of the possible 30 rounds out of his last 6 fights would once again go the distance versus Aldo. Aldo would come out fast. Landing his vicious leg kicks. Striking fast and accurate. However, around round 3 things started to turn. Depending who you ask, that was the round that would decide the fight. Edgar would dominate at times in the last two rounds. Aldo would land a big shot from time to time, but it was Edgar controlling the cage, the pace. Edgar’s ability to take Aldo down and close the distance took away the leg kicks of Aldo.
At the end of the night… Still UFC 145lb champion, Jose Aldo.
The score cards were a little sketchy. One judge only giving Edgar 1 round. Edgar’s face might have been more of the reason for the decision. He looked beaten. Battered. The action in the cage told a much different story. In the end though, it was still Frankie Edgar’s third straight defeat in the octagon.
The legacy and current reputation of Frankie Edgar is one of grit. More importantly… Heart. That is way the wins and losses matter little at this point. Sure, it bothers Edgar. He’s a warrior. He still has the heart of a champion even if he lacks the belt to prove it. That’s why fight fans love and cheer for him. His never go backwards approach. His warrior attitude. It’s still a buisness and Edgar is in a must win situation, but fans will never turn their back on him. He has earned their respect.