On Saturday night at UFC Vegas 18, Frankie Edgar will compete at 135 pounds for the second time in a pivotal fight against No. 2-ranked Cory Sandhagen, and the importance of the bout isn’t lost on the 39-year-old former champion.
“I’m considering it a No. 1 contender’s fight,” Edgar told MMAFighting. “Any time you can string together a couple of wins over some top competition, doing what I did in my career, that’s always going to put me at the doorstep.
“I think Cory, he’s kind of put a nice resume up of himself in this bantamweight division, so I imagine whoever gets the win will be fighting for the title next after [Aljamain Sterling].”
In addition to being a former champion at 155 pounds, Edgar also competed many times at featherweight, challenging for a version of the 145-pound title on multiple occasions. For years, however, many felt as if he should be competing at bantamweight given his size, and with his career likely winding down, “The Answer” finally made the drop down in weight last year.
In his first fight at 135 pounds, Edgar scored a hard-fought split-decision victory over veteran Pedro Munhoz. This upcoming fight against Sandhagen, however, could present an even stiffer challenger.
At 28 years old, Sandhagen has established himself as one of the best bantamweights in the world by compiling a 13-2 overall record that includes six UFC victories. And while he suffered a highly disappointing loss to current title challenger Aljamain Sterling last June, he bounced back with a vicious second-round stoppage over Marlon Moraes in October.
While age certainly favors Sandhagen in this upcoming fight, Edgar has made it clear that he likes the matchup quite a bit. He may have a lot of tread on his tires, but the hunger to fight the best available is still a driving force for the New Jersey native.
“Ever since I walked in this game, I wanted to fight the best,” Edgar said. “Fighting the best guys are going to get me where I want to be. Cory’s no different. I think it’s a perfect matchup for him and myself.”
And in terms of when he’ll hang up his gloves for good, Frankie Edgar won’t even consider it until he loses that aforementioned hunger.
“I’m down for the legend fights, too, but the competitor in me wants to fight the best guys,” he said. “The day that I don’t want to face the best guys, maybe I shouldn’t be fighting.”
Long Island-based sports writer covering MMA, Boxing, and the New York Jets.