Frankie Edgar has spent the better part of his mixed martial arts career fighting against the odds.
He’s supposedly not big enough to fight at lightweight. He’s not strong enough to deal with the power of the biggest 155-pounders in the world. He’s not in the same league as B.J. Penn and can’t be the champion.
Edgar has overcome all of those challenges during his time in the UFC, and now as the reigning and defending lightweight champion, the New Jersey native will look to overcome one more obstacle.
Defeating the man who holds the only win over him during his MMA career.
As Edgar prepares for his rematch with Gray Maynard at UFC 125, he’s once again a slight underdog from most of the major sports books, but as a lifelong underdog he simply wouldn’t want it any other way.
“It’s been working good for me, so why change it?” Edgar said on MMAWeekly Radio about relishing his underdog role. “I’m assuming sooner or later I’ll not be the underdog, but I’ll take it. It makes sense, heads up he beat me, so he should be the favorite.”
Maynard beat Edgar back in April 2008 in a fight that most said exposed the future champion as just too small to compete at lightweight. While it’s true that Edgar routinely walks around at near 160 pounds, when other opponents are sometimes cutting 15 to 20 pounds to make weight, he’s found ways to compete and win.
Pegged early on in his career as a wrestler with some jiu-jitsu, Edgar has taken it upon himself to become a well-rounded fighter in every facet of the game. Working his boxing with coach Mark Henry has formed Edgar into one of the best in the sport when it comes to his hands, and jiu-jitsu coach Ricardo Almeida has continued to build on a solid foundation for the ground game that the champion already had.
Looking back on the first fight with Maynard, Edgar has improved in every area and it may very well be that loss that forced him to up his game.
“I go back, I look at it somewhat,” Edgar said about the first fight with Maynard. “Teammates look at it, coaches, but for the most part we are different fighters, different game. I look more at recent stuff.”
The recent fights have shown marked improvements from both fighters.
Still, the first fight can’t be ignored because it did happen, and it did result in a loss on Edgar’s record. For the champion, however, this fight isn’t about getting payback.
“I’m not out there to get revenge, per se,” Edgar commented. “Biggest thing, I’m defending my title, I want to win my next fight, and it just so happens it’s against Gray Maynard, who has a win over me. A win over him would just be icing on the cake.”
Going into their New Year’s Day fight, that is the philosophy that Edgar is living and breathing with. After the fight is over, and assuming he still has the title around his waist, Edgar admits it might be a slightly different story.
“Right now it’s just another win,” said Edgar. “Maybe you ask me after the fight with a ‘W’ I might say yeah it means a little bit more.”