by Brian Lopez-Benchimol – MMAWeekly.com
Exciting fights keep you in the UFC. Winning those exciting fights makes you a commodity. When you’re a commodity you become a contender. When you become a contender… well, you’re Frankie Edgar.
Taking the lightweight division by storm, the New Jersey native made his Octagon debut against fellow top lightweight Tyson Griffin in a rousing three-round battle (which still is seen on television sets across the globe thanks to UFC Unleashed) with each fighter having their moments. The victory ultimately went to Edgar, who used effective wrestling coupled with a solid stand-up game to hand Griffin his first professional loss.
After suffering his own first professional loss to Xtreme Couture’s Gray Maynard, in true Edgar form, he came back with another exciting fight against former title challenger Hermes Franca at UFC Fight Night 14 in Las Vegas this past July.
Gearing up for his most important fight to date, against former UFC lightweight champion Sean Sherk, to be televised on the main card of UFC 98, Edgar spoke with the MMAWeekly Radio show discussing his pivotal match-up and what had kept him out of action for the remainder of 2008.
“Believe it or not, I sprained my ACL in my right leg and my MCL in the other one. It was kind of one after the other, so it was tough to deal with, but I got over it. No surgery needed; physical therapy, one hundred percent” explained Edgar.
Eager to continue climbing the mountain that is the lightweight division, the Ricardo Almeida pupil had the option of returning to the fight game earlier this year, however, opted to wait until May to compete against Sherk. With a win over the former champion, Edgar could begin to stake his claim as the next title challenger in the crowded division.
“I just feel that the opportunity to fight Sherk is an opportunity you could wait for.”
Originally scheduled to face Matt Wiman back in December, after succumbing to multiple injuries, Edgar has used his time out efficiently. And with plenty of notice to face Sherk, the newly minted father (who admits fatherhood is his biggest challenge, taking precedence over fighting) believes that the extra allotted time can only benefit him physically and uses his daunting task at hand as extra motivation to come in pristine condition.
“Being that my knee was banged up, being that Sherk is such a tough opponent, I wanted to start this training camp out really early, so timing was excellent for this one.”
Having been able to win the majority of his fights based on pure skill rather than physicality, questions began to circle the Tom River, N.J., resident when he garnered his first and only loss, to Maynard, who is the epitome of “large” lightweights. Many feel that Edgar would be much better suited in the featherweight division… but not him.
“I enjoy fighting in the UFC. I wanna stay here. You never know what the future holds, but right now I feel like I have a great opportunity heading in with Sherk. I feel like if I beat Sherk, I’m right in the picture for this title, so I don’t see any reason to go down (to 145). When people question my ability at 155 it absolutely motivates me. I don’t mind being the little guy; I think it’s a fun position to be in as a fighter.”
Knowing well that the win over Sherk is a near guarantee for top spot for the lightweight title, Edgar will make the best of the opportunity given to him. He also relishes the chance to prove the naysayers wrong and make a statement that size doesn’t matter.
“I really feel like Sean is on his way back to the title. I feel that if I beat him, I take his spot or at least a notch right below it. I think it can only help me to where I want to be, so that’s why I was really quick to jump on this one.”