Frankie Edgar fell flat in his attempt to win UFC gold for the second time in as many tries when he dropped a unanimous decision to featherweight champion Jose Aldo. However, he found a new home at 145 pounds in the process.
The loss to Aldo has to be disheartening. After losing out on two close decisions against Benson Henderson in the lightweight division, Edgar's move down to featherweight seemed like his best chance at regaining a title.
While the goal of winning the title didn't work out this time around, Edgar held his own and showed he deserved to be in the cage with Aldo. Unlike many of the champion's opponents, you felt like Edgar had a shot to win as the fight progressed.
It's for that reason Edgar needs to make the 145-pound division his permanent home. A move back up to 155 would place him squarely in the log jam that exists in the division. He'd have to wait behind Gilbert Melendez and Anthony Pettis if he wanted a shot at a third encounter with Henderson.
By contrast, the featherweight division is far less decided when it comes to the title picture.
What should Edgar do next?
The next title shot will likely go to either Ricardo Lamas or Chan Sung-Jung. Neither is likely to top Aldo, but they have done the most within the division to earn the opportunity to fight for the belt.
Ideally, Edgar will be paired with whichever one does not get the title shot in a title eliminator to find out who gets the next crack at the reigning champion. After watching Edgar go toe-to-toe with Aldo, it's clear that he can hang with anyone at 145.
Edgar has always been a small lightweight and even looked small compared to the champion on Saturday night. Not many featherweights possess the size of Aldo, and Edgar was still able to score effectively throughout the fight and got stronger in the later rounds.
Should Edgar stay in the featherweight division, he would likely be favored against any opponent not named Aldo. Considering his popularity with fans and his long track record of delivering in big fights, it's definitely within reason that he would be granted a rematch with just one victory in the featherweight division.
The whole idea of Edgar's drop to 145 was that it presented him with the quickest path to winning a UFC championship. Even though he came up short in his first featherweight championship bout, it's still the division that gives him the quickest road back to the top.