UFC 156: Keys to Victory for Frankie Edgar
Frankie Edgar is trying to do something that only two men have ever done. He's trying to capture a UFC championship in two separate divisions.
In order for Edgar to become history's third wheel, he'll have to dethrone one of the best fighters in the world: Jose Aldo.
Aldo has been on the steady rise in the sport's pound-for-pound discussion and has feasted upon every UFC featherweight contender that the promotion has thrown his way.
However, he has never faced a more complete fighter than Edgar, especially one who has beaten some of the best lightweights over the past five years.
For Edgar to experience success in his divisional debut, he'll have to perform to perfection.
Here's how he can pull it off.
Utilize His Footwork
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
As it is in any one of his fights, especially championship bouts, Frankie Edgar's success hinders on his immediate ability to utilize his footwork.
Whether at featherweight or lightweight, Edgar is always going to be one of the toughest strikers in the division, but his power is often irrelevant. That's why he flourishes in switching up angles, shifting his range and landing multiple strikes through crisp boxing.
His upcoming fight opposite Jose Aldo this Saturday at UFC 156 will be no different. Edgar will try to keep his distance and score points against one of the best fighters on the planet.
If, for some reason, that isn't his offensive strategy entering this bout, his divisional debut will surely go awry.
Keep His Distance
This is what Jose Aldo did to Urijah Faber back at WEC 48. It's by far one of the worst post-fight bruises in the history of combat, cavemen included.
But what's even more terrifying is that Aldo has the ability to do this to any one of his opponents. His leg kicks have a mind of their own and when they feel like it's time to do damage, they're going to land with relative ease.
That's exactly why Frankie Edgar needs to keep his distance from Aldo when the two meet for the featherweight championship. If Edgar is unable to limit the damage experienced at the shins of Aldo's leg kicks, he'll find it extremely difficult to take the fight to the ground or utilize his elite in-and-out boxing.
It's going to be tough considering Edgar is still the smaller fighter (go figure), but if anyone can make strikers miss with shifty footwork and confusing punches, it's the former UFC lightweight champ.
Look for Timely Takedowns
It's no secret that Jose Aldo's weakest attribute is going to be his ground game. That's not a complete knock, it's more or less a process of elimination.
His other skill sets are just that good.
That leaves Frankie Edgar with a distinct game plan. Attempt to pepper Aldo on his feet with crisp boxing, then try to bring the fight to the ground by securing timely and perfected takedowns.
Edgar has dropped some serious wrestlers in the past, like Gray Maynard, but he just so happens to be facing a guy who has defended 95 percent of all takedowns.
It's evident that both fighters are going to bend, but who will break?
Do Not Brawl with Aldo
Jose Aldo knows how to finish fights, especially seconds before a round ends.
That means that Frankie Edgar shouldn't want any part in brawling with the pound-for-pound featherweight champ. It just wouldn't be a good decision.
Edgar has seen his fair share of exchanges over the past few years with his fights opposite Gray Maynard and Benson Henderson, but Aldo is a different animal.
Aldo has the natural explosiveness from distance or up close that could finally give Edgar his first TKO defeat.
It would entirely benefit "The Answer" if he paced himself, picked his shots, stayed away from Aldo's clinch and took his time scoring points.
Bring the Fight to Championship Rounds
Even though Mark Hominick's forehead looked like it imploded at the hands of Jose Aldo at UFC 129, the Canadian was able to steal a round from the Brazilian in the later minutes of their fight.
Frankie Edgar should look to take a page out of Hominick's book and utilize his cardio in the later rounds. Now while Aldo most definitely possesses elite conditioning, Edgar never seems to run out of gas.
If he can last until the fourth and fifth frames, while maintaining a relevant state of health, he could find it much easier to take Aldo down and keep him there.
Think about it this way. Hominick is a kickboxing featherweight who managed to beat Aldo for five minutes on the back of just one takedown. Just imagine what a guy like Edgar can do if he's physically and mentally stable entering the championship rounds.
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