Former UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar scored his first victory in his third weight class with a win over Pedro Munhoz at UFC on ESPN 15 (aka UFC Vegas 7) on Saturday at the Apex in Las Vegas.
Edgar made his bantamweight debut and looked like he hadn’t lost a step. He may even have looked as if he’d gained a little speed, if that is humanly possible.
The bout was initially scheduled to happen on Fight Island in July, but Munhoz tested positive for COVID-19. Not wanting to shift opponents, Edgar agreed to a later date in order to make the fight happen. The extra time to prepare certainly paid off, as Edgar dove into the deep end of the 135-pound pool by fighting Munhoz.
Both men started quickly, Edgar showing the hand speed that he’s been known for at lightweight and featherweight. Munhoz, however, was content to hold the center of the Octagon and attack Edgar’s lead leg with low kicks, and then fire off punches with some thunder in his hands that seemed to be lacking in Edgar’s punches.
It was a solid first round for both men, but Munhoz edged ahead by landing the more damaging blows and tearing at Edgar’s lead leg.
Edgar followed his corner’s advice in round two, mixing in several takedowns that seemed to throw Munhoz off his game a bit. Edgar used the openings to land much more effective punch combinations throughout the frame, including once that opened a cut over Munhoz’s left eye.
While Munhoz was far from out of the second round, it was a great frame for Edgar, who utilized his hand speed to perfection.
The pace slowed considerably in the early going of round three. Munhoz used the pace to start landing his jab. Though he was lacking in follow-up punches, the jab set up even more effective kicks to Edgar’s lead leg with the damage starting to show. Edgar began limping around the cage as the round wore on, looking much more tired as the seconds ticked down and so did the frequency of his punches.
The fourth frame was a perfect example of the fight, as Munhoz continued to stick his jab and land hard kicks to Edgar’s lead leg, trying to set up the power punch that might end the fight. Edgar, by contrast, kept up the utilization of his speedy combinations, seemingly landing in greater number than Munhoz, but leaving everyone wondering if the judges would score frequency over power and damage.
The fifth round is one that Edgar has seen on numerous occasions, but Munhoz fought as though he’d been there many times, though this was his first. They continued with the same strategies that each had established throughout the first four rounds.
Edgar’s lead leg continued to deteriorate as the seconds ticked away, he limped a little more, favored the leg a little more, but kept firing with his combinations, finding his target more often than not.
Munhoz, however, seemed to still have the power behind his punches and kicks that he had earlier in the fight.
The final two minutes saw neither man back down, but Munhoz’s jab kept finding a home. Just as Edgar appeared to be done, he dug deep and landed a shot that snapped Munhoz’s head back.
Munhoz then pushed the front kick into Edgar’s midsection.
Neither stopped. Neither backed down. But as the final horn sounded, Munhoz looked like the victor, the spoiler to Edgar’s bantamweight debut.
The judges, however, saw it differently. In a fight that was tremendously difficult to score, two judges saw it 48-47 in favor of Edgar, while the third saw it 49-46 for Munoz.
It came down to a split decision, but Edgar, nearly a decade later and 20 pounds lighter than his lightweight championship heyday.
“That was a hell of a fight; Pedro’s a stud. I heard a lot of MFers barking that I’m old, that I’m slow. I sure proved them all wrong. I still got a lot of fight in this tank. We’re gonna make a run at (bantamweight),” Edgar said after the fight, continuing his refrain of wanting to make a run at the title in his third weight class.
“He was No. 5, that might put me right in the Top 5. Three weight classes, I’m showing I can still compete with the best. I’m 38 years old, I don’t want to hear nothing from nobody.”
The victory was the 18th of Edgar’s UFC career. A career that spans back to his UFC 67 victory over Tyson Griffin on Feb. 3, 2007. Having won the lightweight championship and fought for the featherweight belt three times, Edgar is certainly already a lock for the UFC Hall of Fame, but he’s not done yet.
“If anything, (I felt) better than I was at the other weights,” Edgar stated.
“I got my feet wet (at bantamweight). I think the sky is the limit for myself. I didn’t look slow in there. Pedro is a top dog and that makes me a top dog.”
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UFC on ESPN 15 co-main event canceled the day of the fight
Unfortunately, the UFC on ESPN 15 co-main event was canceled just hours before it was set to go down. Ovince Saint Preux, who had tested positive and then negative for COVID-19 earlier during fight week, tested positive again on Saturday, necessitating his removal from the fight card. His bout opposite Alonzo Menifield was subsequently canceled.
The other fighters on the card did their best to pick up the slack, as the eight bouts prior to the main event produced six finishes.
UFC on ESPN 15: Munhoz vs. Edgar Quick Results
Main Card (8:30 pm on ESPN and ESPN+)
- Frankie Edgar def. Pedro Munhoz by unanimous decision (48-47, 46-49, 48-47)
Ovince Saint Preux vs. Alonzo Menifield— CANCELED
- Mike Rodriguez def. Marcin Prachnio by KO (elbow and punches) at 2:17, R1
- Joe Solecki def. Austin Hubbard by submission (rear-naked choke) at 3:51, R1
- Shana Dobson def. Mariya Agapova by TKO (hammerfists) at 1:38, R2
- Daniel Rodriguez def. Dwight Grant by KO (punches) at 2:24, R1
Prelims (6 pm ET on ESPN+)
- Amanda Lemos def. Mizuki Inoue by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Jordan Wright def. Ike Villanueva by TKO (doctor’s stoppage) at 1:31, R1
- Matthew Semelsberger def. Carlton Minus by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 29-28)
- Trevin Jones def. Timur Valiev by TKO (punches) at 1:59, R2