It may be cliché to say but after UFC 150 Frankie Edgar is stuck somewhere between a rock and a hard place, career wise. While it’s certainly interesting that after last night he’s in the same position Gray Maynard was a year ago, and B.J Penn two years ago, the man known as “The Answer” is now stuck facing a lot of big time career questions.
That’s the problem with having lost to the champion twice in consecutive fights, as Edgar’s loss to Benson Henderson marked his second loss of 2012. He was granted an immediate rematch due to how close that fight was to score, much like Penn, and unlike that rematch he did enough to win but Henderson got the nod. It was a close decision but you could justify either side; Edgar wasn’t robbed nor was Henderson gifted a decision.
Close fights tend to bring that out in fight fans; few close fights are robberies. But for Edgar, who has failed twice against Henderson, he’s stuck in a precarious position.
If he chooses to stay in the lightweight division he becomes the Joseph Benavidez of it. He’s the clear #2 lightweight in the world, an extremely talented fighter who nearly unseated the champion and who many people thought won. Benavidez lost a split decision after a unanimous one to Dominick Cruz in the WEC in two of the best fights in that company’s history, the same that Edgar just has, and a three fight win streak left him on the outside looking in.
It would’ve taken him another three wins at a minimum to justify the trilogy, easy, and he could’ve chosen to do so. With flyweight opening up he took the opportunity to fight at a weight he could easily make; now he looks like a top tier fighter and the inaugural champion in waiting. It’s hard not see his flyweight debut against Demetrious Johnson’s fights against Ian McCall and come away thinking that Benavidez will hold that title sooner than later. A drop in weight has revitalized his career.
That’s the choice that Edgar is left with right now that The Clash once sang: does he stay or does he go?
What happens if he stays?
There’s no disputing that Edgar is the best lightweight in the world not named Benson Henderson at this point; his only un-avenged loss is to the former WEC titleholder. Lightweight is easy to make for him and there are plenty of interesting matchups for him at the weight. With the way Henderson looked on Saturday one could argue it’s only a matter of time before he loses the title; he didn’t look impressive and Edgar has a clear case that he won the fight. “Smooth” clearly won the first but it was close enough to warrant a rematch; if he fights like this against Nate Diaz he won’t be holding the title any longer. But Henderson could run off a streak and win fights as well, and if Edgar runs off a five fight win streak again against top competition he can be right back in the mix. A trilogy fight down the road could make sense if Edgar continues to be the #2 lightweight in the world.
Edgar still is faster than nearly anyone in the division and is a nightmare matchup for plenty of fighters in the division. What he lacks in true one shot power he makes up for in speed and volume.
If he stays, he just has to keep winning and eventually it’ll come back to him. He’s still a name in the division and can make a handsome living on the main card.
What happens if he goes?
Frankie Edgar can make featherweight fairly easy, one imagines, based on his own claims of weight before a fight. Edgar is one of only two lightweight fighters in the division, Clay Guida being the other, that weigh around 155 pounds and fight at that weight. Frankie skips eating the day of weigh-ins to make 155 and 145 would be easy for him one imagines. Making 135 would be more difficult but is in the crosshairs; one imagines that even 125 might be possible for him. If Edgar drops there’s a plethora of matchups available and one imagines he’d only be a fight away from taking on Jose Aldo (presuming he holds onto the title) in a big money fight.
With 10 lbs of water off him on weigh in day he becomes one of the bigger fighters in the division and his big power strikes that rattle guys at lightweight end up becoming more vicious at featherweight. The big shot he caught Henderson with early would’ve put down a lot of featherweights and one imagines the power edge he gets at featherweight would offset the speed advantage he has at lightweight.
He becomes the second biggest name in the division automatically by going down and a UFC title is in his grasp sooner than later.
What does he do?
One imagines that being Frankie Edgar isn’t easy right now. He can stay and be the Jon Fitch of the lightweights, always #2 but far out of grasp for a title shot. He can take a risk and drop a weight, potentially eyeing another title run in what isn’t nearly as stacked a division as lightweight. Whichever he takes will be interesting, though.