UFC 156: "Super Fight" with Aldo Just the Next Big Fight for Frankie Edgar
In the promo for this weekend's UFC 156, Joe Rogan's voice can be heard describing the greatness of Jose Aldo, as action clips of the featherweight champion brutalizing past opponents play in a stylized montage.
Shortly after Rogan poses a question as to who can possibly challenge the Brazilian star in his weight class, Frankie Edgar appears with the response, "I've heard this story before."
And it's true.
All promotional selling points aside, the challenge of toppling a dominant champion is one the Toms River-native has faced in the past. Coming into his first opportunity to compete for the lightweight title at UFC 112, Edgar squared off with B.J. Penn, a man who had appeared damn-near invincible at 155 pounds.
Defeating "The Prodigy" sent a shock wave throughout the MMA world. So much in fact, Edgar had to turn around and do it again several months later at UFC 118. In the second go-around with the former two-division champion, the 31-year-old left no questions on the table, as he walked away with his first title defense in a one-sided victory over Penn.
It's been nearly three years since "The Answer" turned the sport on its ear. During that time, the former wrestling standout from Clarion University forged a championship legacy of his own, showing a level of grit and determination to represent the very fabric upon which the sport of mixed martial arts was built.
An undersized frame and an outsized will to win made for an amazing storyline, as the perpetual underdog continued to prove himself as one of the best fighters in the world.
But after two close decision losses to Benson Henderson, and the title he once coveted now gone, Edgar prepares to begin the next chapter of his career as a featherweight.
In proper Edgar fashion, his first challenge will be to dethrone another man who has dominated the weight class he champions. The matchup is being billed as a "super fight", and while Edgar acknowledges the attention surrounding the tilt, he is simply ready to handle business.
"This is just another big fight for me," Edgar told Bleacher Report. "You don't want to put too much emphasis on any one fight and you just want to go in there and do what you have to do. There has never been a fight where I haven't shown up and brought my best. That is what I'm going to do in this fight. I'm bringing my best into the cage and I'm going to bring that featherweight title home with me."
The talk of Edgar making the drop down to featherweight has swirled for years. In a division where some of the top competition cuts upwards of 25 pounds to make the weight, Edgar was always the smaller competitor and historically cut very little weight to come in under the set limit.
UFC President Dana White commented on numerous occasions that he would like to see Edgar drop down a weight class, and now that this has become reality, the former lightweight champion has found a new sense of motivation in the process.
"It's really been all positive," Edgar described about his weight cut. "It just forced me to put better stuff into my body and it has kind of made me a better athlete. I'm more disciplined and it gave me more purpose. To be honest it has been refreshing, because it gave me something different to do. I would never go as far to say cutting weight is pleasurable, but there hasn't been a situation where I'm feeling it or fatigued. It's been all good."
In a career spent scrapping it out on the sport's biggest stage, perhaps the biggest challenge of Edgar's career will come this Saturday night against Jose Aldo at UFC 156. "Junior" is considered one of MMA's pound-for-pound best and presents a unique set of problems for any opposition he faces.
The young Brazilian phenom brings a powerful striking game into the cage and has made highlight-reel material out of those who have challenged his spot atop the division.
In past cases, speed has made the biggest difference. While Aldo has stated in past interviews that he believes the transition to featherweight will affect Edgar's speed, the New Jersey native believes otherwise.
"I think my speed is going to transition well," Edgar said. "[Aldo] keeps talking about how I'm not going to be as quick as I was, but really, he is the bigger guy. I'm going to be the smaller guy in this fight, and I think I'm going to be the quicker one as well. I'm not too worried about that aspect of the fight.
"I think he's fought some good guys in the past, but I'm probably the biggest name he's fought to date. The guys he has fought, Aldo has pretty much just ran through them. That won't be the case on Saturday night."
This weekend in Las Vegas, Edgar will once again find himself in a position to show and prove. For a fighter who has come out on top, against all odds, time and time again, it becomes believable when Edgar addresses his upcoming battle as just the next big thing on his path.
While the bout with the Brazilian wunderkind is about to arrive front and center, there is still much more to come before the book is closed on Edgar's career.
Whether that story includes a trip back up to chase his former crown or a championship run at 145 pounds remains to be seen, but nevertheless, Edgar lives for the big fight moment and is excited for what the future holds.
"I'm at the point in my career where I have a lot of options, and I like to fight in the biggest fights," Edgar said. "If those come at 145 pounds or 155 pounds it doesn't matter to me. If it is something Dana [White] and Lorenzo [Fertitta] want and the fans are behind it, then I'm game.
"I absolutely think the best is ahead of me," Edgar added. "I'm 31 but it doesn't feel like I'm in my 30s at all. This past camp I felt tremendous, and there are plenty of years of fight left in me. I just want to put on big fights for the fans and finish this career off strong."
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