Frankie Edgar has seen it all during his fight career.
The New Jersey native started at a time in the sport when the martial arts weren’t quite as mixed and specialists from the world of kickboxing, wrestling or jiu-jitsu were still dominating many divisions.
This weekend, Edgar will face off with a bit of a throwback to those days when he takes on Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt Brian Ortega, who is far from one dimensional, but it’s impossible to ignore what he does best.
Ortega is a submission specialist, who has the innate ability to catch an opponent slipping with the smallest mistake and making them pay for it. Unlike grapplers such as Demian Maia, who take the fight to the ground and then just methodically transition into a dominant position to lock on the submission, Ortega is a master at catching an opponent in that one split second where their guard is down. Not long after that, the fight is over.
That’s why Edgar knows that he has to be ready for that kind of attack from Ortega, who has been a notoriously slow starter, yet he’s managed to pull off four third-round finishes since joining the UFC roster.
Frankie Edgar Breaks Down Brian Ortega
“Absolutely, there’s always that danger. I’ve got to make sure my Spidey senses are all in-tune all the way through,” Edgar told MMAWeekly ahead of UFC 222. “I can’t think I’m up on the scorecards and let me just cruise these last couple minutes of the fight cause Ortega is going to make you pay.
“I’m not one to really lose focus. I know I’m going to be laser sharp in there and make sure that I’m on my game and I don’t get caught in something like that.”
Throughout his career, Edgar has faced those old school specialists who were particularly good at being a knockout kickboxer or a college wrestler turned fighter. In this situation, Edgar knows he’s taken on several slick submission specialists and Ortega is just the latest in that line.
“Luckily, I come from an era where we did see a lot of these specialists. I think Ortega is definitely his own type of fighter, but I’ve fought guys similar to him,” Edgar said. “I’ve fought guys who are very tricky on the ground. We just have to work all the danger points and make sure we don’t give him any opportunities to capitalize on. But I’ve been in there with Hermes Franca, B.J. Penn, Charles Oliveira, those guys all have very dangerous jiu-jitsu, so this is kind of the same thing.
“Like I said, I just need to make sure my Spidey senses are up and I’m aware of everything that’s going on.”
Frankie Edgar is NOT Looking Past His Opponent
It would be easy for Edgar to look ahead to a shot at UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway, but Edgar is the last person who will ever try to downgrade his opposition to build himself up or make it seem like the fighter standing across the Octagon from him has no chance.
Instead, Edgar has stayed on top of the sport for so many years because he shows everybody that same kind of respect that the smallest error could lead to a loss. Considering Edgar’s stellar record in the UFC, it’s doubtful he’s going to let Ortega surprise him.
“He’s a fighter. He goes out there and fights. He’s definitely game,” Edgar said about Ortega. “I think in some of his fights he may have been losing, but he finds a way to win and that’s because of his gameness. That keeps him in the fight and that makes him dangerous. He’s tall, he’s a big 145’er, he’s long, he’s got a very dangerous guard and he throws with everybody. He was out there throwing bombs with Cub [Swanson].
“He’s a dangerous guy.”