Frankie Edgar to Featherweight: Why It's Good for Edgar and the UFC

Craig Amos@@CAABRMMAFeatured ColumnistAugust 22, 2012

October 17, 2011; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar before the first half of the game between the New York Jets and the Miami Dolphins at the New Meadowlands Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-US PRESSWIRE
Ed Mulholland-US PRESSWIRE

News of Frankie Edgar's intentions of dropping to featherweight made the rounds Tuesday night and have generated a surge of reactions from around the MMA world since.

Edgar's decision to make the move to 145 pounds has garnered almost universally positive reception, and for good reason—the change will prove beneficial to both Edgar and the UFC in the long run.


Why It's a Smart Move for Edgar

Though he has dropped back-to-back contests to Ben Henderson at 155 pounds, there is little in those performances to suggest Edgar cannot continue to find success at lightweight. Still, the move to featherweight provides Edgar with a slew of both short-term and long-term benefits worthy of dissection.

In the short term, Edgar reasserts himself right next to a UFC title. If he is not granted an immediate shot at the 145-pound crown, he will likely need just one win to get the chance.

Had he remained at lightweight, Edgar would not be all that close to the front of the pack. Despite the competitive nature of each of his recent losses, few people were clamoring for another Henderson-Edgar rematch. So long as Henderson remained champion, Edgar's road to a title shot would have been a long one.

Even if Henderson lost the belt to another fighter, Edgar would have found himself behind several other fighters in line for the opportunity.

Guys like Nate Diaz, Gray Maynard, Donald Cerrone and Anthony Pettis would bar the path back to the top, which not only entails waiting, but stiff competition while waiting.

To get another shot at the lightweight title Edgar likely would have had to spent at least a year-and-a-half toiling away against the the best of the best at 155 pounds, meaning a title shot would have been both a ways off, and far from certain.

At featherweight, his road to the title is both shorter and guarded by fewer, if any, opponents. 

Additionally, the drop to featherweight should allow Edgar to prolong his career. The Answer has built a reputation for himself by taking severe damage and fighting through it en route to victory. While the style has produced a bevy of memories for MMA fans, it is not something many fighters can maintain deep into their careers.

Though he may lose the speed advantage he had over most competition at lightweight, Edgar will find less power strikers at 145 pounds, which should mean good things for his professional longevity.

Between increasing his chances at winning a UFC title shot and protecting his fighting vitality and durability, Edgar's drop to 145 pounds will be looked back upon as a terrific career move years from now.


Why It Benefits the UFC

If a champion and star UFC fighter loses consecutive matches, it is rare that he maintains the aura of being a top mixed martial artist. Edgar's move to featherweight, however, allows him to do just that, which means he remains a guy the UFC can promote around as much as, if not more, than before.

The thin margin of defeat, as well as his diminutive frame, excuse Edgar from accusations of being over the hill. Instead, many now see him as ready to enter the phase, and next level, of his career.

This is timely news for the UFC, considering featherweight kingpin Jose Aldo is on the verge of running through the bulk of the competition at 145 pounds. Edgar—bringing his intact talent and reputation—infuses some life and intrigue into a division that might need it sooner rather than later.

Additionally, Edgar's departure from lightweight means the muddled title picture there is slightly less complicated now. Clearly, there was no second rematch in the cards after Edgar's most recent loss to Henderson, but he couldn't have slid too far down the ladder after a split-decision loss in a title fight, yet his road back would have to be considerable.

Essentially, Edgar's extended presence at 155 pounds would have made the considerably complex title picture even harder for the UFC brass to figure out.

Edgar's presence at lightweight would not have been an outright bad thing for the UFC, but it was becoming lost in a surplus of talented contenders. Now that he has dropped to 145 pounds, his presence can be found in a place more needing of it.

A definite win for the UFC.