by Steven Marrocco – MMAWeekly.com
In Frankie Edgar’s mind, if you can’t adapt, you shouldn’t be fighting.
Edgar, 28, says he gained new confidence in himself with a decisive decision victory over former lightweight champion Sean Sherk in May at UFC 98. He did it by living up to his credo: zigging when Sherk zagged, never being predictable.
After a long and unwanted layoff, another curve ball was thrown his way. His original opponent at The Ultimate Fighter 10 finale, Kurt Pellegrino, hurt his back and withdrew. In his place, Matt Veach stepped in – a virtual unknown coming out of a good camp in Matt Hughes’ H.I.T. squad.
“That’s how life is,” the Toms River native told MMAWeekly.com. “Nothing is straight forward anyway. You’ve got to adjust to what’s given to you and make the best out of it.”
The good news, he said, was that he had already turned up the intensity in his training camp. The bad news was there was scant tape to scout Veach – a throwback to his pre-UFC days.
Edgar’s Octagon career has been unusual in that he’s mostly fought established fighters. He’s had but one setback, to Gray Maynard last April at UFC Fight Night 13, meaning there’s a lot to lose if he falls short. From a strict business perspective, it’s a favor, and a dangerous one.
“I was once myself a guy coming into the UFC with no name and I took advantage of that,” he said. “I’m sure he’s going to be looking to take advantage of that.
“This is part of the game. If you want to be the best, you’ve got to be able to take any fight and win.”
Both have strong wrestling pedigrees – Edgar trains with the Rutgers University wrestling team, while Veach trains with Hughes and Marc Fiore – Edgar isn’t counting on one aspect of the up-and-comer’s game. Veach, after all, announced his entry into the division with a quick TKO victory over former collegiate wrestling standout Matt Grice.
“He could be a totally different fighter that night,” said Edgar. “I’ve got to try to build my strengths and worry about getting better every day. As far as knowing the rest of his abilities, I guess I’ll find out that night.”
Edgar says he’s focused on delivering his brand of boxing, kickboxing, and wrestling on Dec. 5. Where it gets him, he hopes, is back on the road to a title shot.
Favor or not, he has to make the best out of it.
“It’s going to be a tough fight,” he said. “I’ve definitely got my work cut out for me.”