Despite going 15-3-1 as lightweight, winning the UFC title, and defending it three times, Frankie Edgar was never a natural 155-pounder. Typically much smaller than his opposition, many have long argued that “The Answer” would be better suited at a lower weight class.
Edgar seemed to agree with the claims and in 2013, he dropped down to 145-pounds where he’s since competed in three title fights while compiling an 8-5 record. Still, there were times when Edgar didn’t look as if he belonged in the division, and when he was so clearly the smaller man, especially against opponents like Brian Ortega and Max Holloway, two of featherweight’s biggest combatants.
So now at age 38 and riding a two-fight losing streak, Edgar will once again look to reinvent himself and start fresh. On Saturday, “The Answer” will drop down further in weight and make his bantamweight debut against Pedro Munhoz in the main event of UFC on ESPN 15 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Given his size, it’s quite possible that Edgar should have always been a 135-pounder, but at this point, is it too late?
Having lost three of his last four bouts and closing in on 40-years-old, it’s likely that Edgar’s best days are behind him and that he’s nearing the end of what has undoubtedly been a successful career. At the same time, however, the New Jersey native remains an experienced, tough, and gritty veteran and it’s fair to argue that he can probably still be competitive in multiple weight divisions.
Simply being competitive is not what Frankie Edgar is after though. He’s always had his eyes on the prize and there’s no denying that he’s dropping to 135 pounds in hopes of making one last title run. And that’s where the issue arises. Given not only the state of his career but the state of the upper echelon of the bantamweight division, it’s a bit difficult to see Edgar finding a ton of success against the top 135-pounders.
For example, 27-year-old champion Petr Yan has won 10-straight fights and is coming off of back-to-back finishes over Urijah Faber and Jose Aldo, who owns two wins over Edgar. Next in line is Aljamain Sterling, a well-rounded submission artist who has picked up five consecutive victories. There’s also Marlon Moraes, a former training partner of Edgar’s who just so happens to be a powerful striker and a ruthless finisher.
And that’s not all as the division also features a mix of former champions, like Cody Garbrandt and Dominick Cruz, and up-and-comers, like Corey Sandhagen. Munhoz himself is currently ranked No. 5 as well.
Simply put, the bantamweight division seems to be going through a golden era, as there has never been as many skilled and dangerous fighters as there is today. The top of the class is a shark tank and it’d be difficult for any fighter to break into. But an aging former champion like Edgar who’s riding a losing streak? That’s a daunting task.
Of course, Frankie Edgar could pull off an impressive victory over a top-ranked fighter this weekend and insert himself right into the thick of things. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time he’s overcome adversity.
From the outside looking in, however, it appears as if it may be too late for one of MMA’s most beloved warriors.
Long Island-based sports writer covering MMA, Boxing, and the New York Jets.