Former UFC lightweight champion, multiple time featherweight title-challenger, and fan-favorite Frankie Edgar is moving to bantamweight. Who should he face in his 135 pound debut?
There’s no denying Frankie Edgar’s professional MMA resumé. The legendary fighter has competed at the highest level of two of the sport’s toughest divisions, battling with the best of the best in the UFC at lightweight and featherweight since 2007. He’s held, and defended, the promotion’s 155 pound title, while fighting for the 145 pound belt three times in six years.
Most recently, Edgar fought current UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway at UFC 240, taking a unanimous decision loss in the title fight. That loss was enough to make the 37-year old re-evaluate which weight class was best for his immediate future in MMA. For at least his next bout, Edgar will fight in the bantamweight division at 135 pounds. The move is a welcome one for Edgar’s head coach, Mark Henry.
“It’s bad enough dealing with weight in a fight but when you’re dealing with height, range and weight for 15 years it’s asking a lot. When Frankie has fought guys his own height he’s done very well—Urijah [Faber], BJ [Penn], [Sean] Sherk, Cub [Swanson], Chad [Mendes]—So excited for this new chapter. Very excited!” – Mark Henry via MMA Fighting
While the lack of a size disadvantage will potentially be a plus for Edgar, the added weight cut, and potential speed disadvantage, are questions the veteran will have to “Answer.” Regardless of those unknowns, Edgar is headed toward the loaded UFC bantamweight division.
With a currently injured champion in Henry Cejudo, whose next couple of fights seem set at both flyweight and bantamweight, where could Edgar fit in the promotion’s 135-pound weight class? A ranked opponent makes a lot of sense, and with the depth at bantamweight, there aren’t many wrong choices for Frankie Edgar’s divisional debut.
Dominick Cruz (#6)
Dominick Cruz is also an all-time great. A “Legend vs. Legend” bout between Cruz and Edgar is an easy sell for the promotion, and could fit on the main card of a pay-per-view or main event a smaller card. It’s also an intriguing matchup featuring a couple of extremely well-rounded fighters with outstanding careers. Of course, there are as many questions about Cruz’s current status as there are Edgar’s prospects at bantamweight. But, he’s currently ranked #6 in the division, putting him just outside the crowded title picture.
Realistically, an Edgar-Cruz bout wouldn’t do much to immediately influence the current title picture. Aljamain Sterling and Petr Yan are the top contenders, while Cory Sandhagen and Raphael Assuncao meet in an important fight at UFC 241. While the winner of Edgar-Cruz might not be next in line for a shot at Cejudo’s belt, they would certainly be in the conversation, with the name-power to potentially jump the line sometime in 2020.
Urijah Faber (#14)
Another big name that Frankie could face is the recently returned Urijah Faber. The duo fought at featherweight in the main event of UFC Phillipines in May of 2015. Edgar won that bout by unanimous decision, in the lone Faber fight at 145-pounds for the better part of the last decade. Since then, Edgar has fought for two featherweight titles, while Faber has fought for the bantamweight belt, retired, and then un-retired. They’ve both been through a lot.
Now, a rematch in Faber’s “home division” could make sense. Faber re-entered the 135-pound rankings after his recent TKO victory over Ricky Simon, giving him back-to-back victories for the first time since 2014. The matchup might not impact the title picture as much as other potential bantamweight opponents, but it’s an easy sell for the promotion, and a fun first fight for Edgar’s 135-pound run.
Next up, a former bantamweight champ!