Frankie Edgar had a great run in the lightweight division, becoming one of the best 155-pound fighters in MMA history. However, back-to-back losses to Benson Henderson forced Edgar to make a change, so he will now chase greatness in the featherweight class.
Because his second defeat against Henderson was so controversial, Edgar was granted an immediate title shot for his 145-pound debut.
Against Edgar, featherweight titleholder Jose Aldo will attempt to defend his belt for a fourth consecutive time inside the Octagon. Already one of the most accomplished 145-pound fighters ever, Aldo would further cement himself into the history books in what is essentially a superfight with the former lightweight champion.
As January's biggest fight approaches, let's take a look at whether Aldo or Edgar has the advantage heading into the UFC 156 main event.
Frankie Edgar's footwork plays a big part in his striking success, but moving down in weight will result in him meeting opponents who are able to match his speed. Aldo is one of those opponents, but more importantly, he's a foe who can take away Edgar's mobility with just a couple of leg kicks.
These fighters have had similar success on their feet in the past, both landing slightly less than half of their attempted strikes and avoiding around 70 percent of strikes thrown at them (via FightMetric.com).
However, Aldo's muay thai makes him the more dynamic striker and should give him the edge over Edgar when both fighters are standing.
Though Frankie Edgar has had plenty of success with his striking over the years, his wrestling has made the difference in several of his most important fights.
Dropping to the featherweight division, Edgar will meet fighters who are closer to his size, which should help in the grappling department. However, Jose Aldo is a large 145-pound fighter and has defended 95 percent of takedown attempts against him (via FightMetric.com).
Even if Edgar is able to take Aldo to the ground, the Brazilian has the ability to spring back to his feet quickly and will be tough to control in the early rounds.
The cut to featherweight shouldn't be a problem for Frankie Edgar, as he was undersized at lightweight to begin with. But the fact that this is his first fight at 145 pounds is worth noting, especially against an opponent who allows no room for error in Jose Aldo.
Aldo is also more capable of finishing this fight from every position. Although Edgar has amazing heart and toughness, Aldo has unmatched power and accuracy in the featherweight division, and even a fighter like the former lightweight champion can only take so much punishment.
When Frankie Edgar takes fights into the later rounds, his conditioning and speed make him tough to deal with. The problem against Jose Aldo is that Edgar might not have much spring left in his legs by the time the fight reaches the championship rounds.
On his feet, Aldo is much more similar to a Benson Henderson than Gray Maynard or B.J. Penn. Therefore, Edgar won't be able to move in and out on the Brazilian as he was against those second two opponents during his run as lightweight champion.
Aldo will damage Edgar's supports and work his way upward with strikes. Like he always has, Edgar will battle through adversity to reach the scorecards, but it won't be enough against an opponent with dynamic striking and excellent takedown defense.
Aldo defeats Edgar by unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 49-46).