Lightweight Champion to Bantamweight Contender.
Frankie Edgar is no stranger to being in title contention. With 3 title defenses and a draw as Lightweight champ, Edgar has the experience factor in the bag. Amazingly, Frankie is probably only now competing at his best weight class, a whole 20lb lighter than the division he ruled. What’s next for Frankie Edgar?
Since leaving lightweight, there have been multiple title shots and the first 2 stoppage finishes in his career. The back-to-back stoppage losses are often a sign of a declining fighter, but Edgar has a unique situation. Being so undersized would always take it’s toll eventually, and the defining factor would be Frankie’s ability to take damage at 135. Step forward, Pedro Munhoz.
Pedro Munhoz is the pitbull of the 135lb division. He’s fast, technical, and ferociously powerful. There were plenty of questions going into the bout, such as would Edgar be quick enough? Would his chin be damaged from his last loss? All of those were answered by Edgar.
Edgar took clean shot after clean shot on the chin and was back to his usual Juggernaut self. At 38, there’s still so much for Edgar to do at BW.
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Where Does He Fit In at Bantamweight?
Out of these guys, I like matchups with Raphael Assuncao and Jimmy Rivera for the viewing reasons, however, to progress his career at BW, Corey Sandhagen or Marlon Moraes would be great matchups. Both guys are higher ranked and coming off of losses. If he wasn’t already involved in a marginally farcical Flyweight title fight, Cody Garbrandt would have been perfect.
There seems to be a certain Jose Aldo problem at Bantamweight however.
Aldo, another legend, already seems to have Frankie’s number with 2 convincing victories over him already. Aldo would be a difficult one to sell for the UFC right now but if both guys climb back to the top then we never know.
Another problem area is Aljamain Sterling.
He has a tailor-made style to beat Edgar. Longer, range, fast, gas tank for days and stellar grappling. Whilst ‘Aljo’ is pre-occupied with a title shot, it’s another potential match-up down the line.
The last real issue I see for Frankie is actually someone like Merab Dvalishvili.
Another Sera-Longo graduate, Merab has a terrible style match-up for Frankie. Fantastic wrestling, Matt Sera/John Danaher certified BJJ and ferocious, erratic striking.
Outside of those 3, I see Edgar having much success at Bantamweight. Even the champion, Petr Yan. I think Edgar can take him down and potentially grind out a decision. I don’t necessarily think he would win, I just don’t see it being as difficult a match-up as the other 3.
The other 3 have phenomenal defensive wrestling, and when they need, all have the offensive side locked down also. I think all 3 would find a way to win on the feet, and I don’t think that can be said about anyone else in that division against Edgar.
Can He Go Higher?
Overall, I think Edgar, if moved down 3/4 years ago, may have been a champion again. However, I think Bantamweight has the best top 10 guys in the world and it’s as much a compliment as anything that at 38 Frankie is still rightfully midway in that top 10. Do I think he’ll go higher than 5? Extremely possible. He may even get a title shot, however if he needs to face Aljo, Aldo, or Merab, then he may be in trouble.
I’d say Frankie is about perfect in the rankings at the moment. Maybe a place or two higher would suffice, however very reasonable.
As stated above, I’d love an Assuncao fight but it isn’t realistic, the best one to look at would be Sandhagen/Moraes or even a Jimmy Rivera. One thing we know is that anybody they divide to give Frankie next, the MMA community will be wishing him well and crossing their fingers for him.
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