Former champ expects rematch by late summer
The “comeback” has always held a special place in American sports history. Whether it is a late-game drive against an unforgiving defense or a game-changing swing of momentum that helps close out a game in epic fashion, snatching victory from the jaws of defeat is the fabric legends are made from.
In the current era of mixed martial arts, you can’t discuss the comeback without mentioning Frankie Edgar. The Toms River, N.J., native has provided some of the grittiest performances to date, proving heart and an unsinkable work ethic can overcome the odds and produce a champion. While his two fights with Gray Maynard may have put Edgar’s determination on display, these days the comeback means something completely different to Edgar.
After his run as UFC lightweight champion was brought to a halt by Ben Henderson at UFC 144, “The Answer” is now seeking to regain the title he fought so valiantly to retain. Edgar came out on the losing end of a hard-fought five-round affair, and rather than go quietly to the back of the line, he demanded the same treatment he had given to his previous opponents.
While it initially appeared he was going to get reshuffled in the highly competitive lightweight deck, Edgar was granted an immediate rematch from UFC president Dana White. He now has the opportunity to regain the title he lost in Japan.
“The squeaky wheel gets the oil, and I knew if I didn’t say anything I would have been passed up,” Edgar told HeavyMMA. “Even when I did say something, I was still almost passed up. I wanted to let Dana, Lorenzo (Fertitta) and the UFC know that I wanted the rematch and I feel if I didn’t, it wasn’t going to happen. They made the decision to give me the rematch and I’m happy with that. I’m not sure when the fight is going to happen but I’m thinking maybe sometime toward the end of August or the beginning of September – but we’ll see.”
At the highest level of competition, losses are never an easy thing to swallow. And when that defeat comes as the result of a debatable decision, the sting increases. When the judges' scores were read at UFC 144, Edgar’s disappointment was obvious. But rather than dwell on the negative aspects of the situation, he has used the experience as added motivation for when he faces Henderson again.
“I’m a highly motivated person whether I have the belt or not,” Edgar said. “It does add that little bit of incentive because I feel I might have been a little slighted in that last fight and I no longer have the belt. I want to get it back, and it does add motivation in that sense.
“I disagreed with the decision, especially right after the fight when you’re emotional. But now I got the rematch and that is all in the past. I’m not dwelling on it too much. Obviously we’ll look back for technical and fight strategy reasons, but I’ve moved on from that fight and looking forward to the next one.”
Despite Edgar’s focus being locked on regaining the lightweight belt, talk about a drop to 145 pounds has become louder over recent months. He has always been an undersized lightweight, and White has been vocal about wanting to see Edgar fight in the featherweight division. Where in the past Edgar has avoided the topic, the former champion has recently begun to address the scenario.
“I’m just so used to it at this point,” Edgar said. “It’s not speculation about me being able to make 145 pounds, because I can make that weight. It’s a real topic and I understand why the media and fans are interested in it. There are definitely some matchups there that even I get excited about."