For a championship athlete whose sport isn’t legal there, Frankie Edgar is seeing quite a bit of New York City these days.
Less than a week ago, the UFC lightweight champion accompanied UFC President Dana White, CEO Lorenzo Fertitta, and Madison Square Garden President Scott O’Neil at the UFC’s press conference to promote its efforts to get MMA regulated in New York and promote an event at the World's Most Famous Arena.
Wednesday Edgar was back, greeting fans at the Intrepid Sea Air & Space Museum to promote Saturday night’s UFC Fight for the Troops 2 event on Spike TV.
While the Toms River, N.J. native may not be a New Yorker, he certainly sees himself as having a stake in the UFC’s efforts to open its last major frontier, and is happy to be the face of mixed martial arts in New York as the circumstances demand.
“I’m in a position now where I’m a champion of the best organization in MMA,” Edgar said Wednesday. “And I do want to fight in Madison Square Garden. I think it’d be a dream for me, only being an hour away in Jersey. It’d be great for my fans, great for my family. When they call upon me to help out, it’s an honor.”
Still, while Edgar is happy to make repeat trips to the Big Apple, when it comes to his fights in the Octagon, “The Answer” would love to be able to get it over with the first time for once.
After fighting BJ Penn twice in 2010 to capture and defend the UFC championship, Edgar is preparing to face Gray Maynard in a rematch of their New Year’s Day classic at UFC 125, a fight that White recently confirmed would take place in May at UFC 130.
“Once and done would be nice,” Edgar said. “I guess I’ve just got to be a little more decisive.”
While Edgar will certainly look to be more decisive in May against Maynard, that matchup seems less personal for the champion this time around.
In the build-up to the UFC 125 fight, Edgar described his record to White as “13 wins and Gray Maynard.”
Now, while he remains 0-1-1 against “The Bully,” Edgar’s primary focus is on keeping the title and progressing in his career—although it would be nice to get the win that’s eluded him through 40 minutes of fighting.
“Gray Maynard is an underlying factor,” Edgar acknowledged. “I think the most important thing is me improving and keeping my belt. If I improve, I’m keeping my belt. If you improve every day, and train hard, you’re going to keep your belt, and also, I’m going to beat Gray Maynard.”
To that end, as Frankie begins his training for UFC 130, his focus is less on Gray Maynard and more on Frankie Edgar.
“Going into camp and training right now,” the champion said. “I’m trying to improve. I’m not training for Gray, I’m training for five guys down the road, to be a better fighter.”
Still, just as there was before UFC 125, there remains a motivation that comes with fighting the man responsible for the only blemishes on his MMA record.
“I’m undefeated besides Gray Maynard,” Edgar said. “That definitely motivates me to get this win over Gray.”
After all, by the time Edgar can compete at Madison Square Garden, it’d be nice for him to have someone new to fight.