Thursday, March 8, 2012
Justice is served for Frankie Edgar
By Josh Gross
Ready for Round 6: Former champion Frankie Edgar will get another go at Benson Henderson.
The conversation started in Saitama, Japan, where Frankie Edgar wondered, "What's right?"
Tuesday in New York, Lorenzo Fertitta and Dana White brought Edgar and his manager, Ali Abdel-Aziz, an answer.
Edgar would get what he wanted, a rematch sometime in August against Benson Henderson for the UFC lightweight title.
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What's right? The former champion happily learned: Zuffa’s decision making.
As much as White reiterated that he’d like Edgar to drop 10 pounds and fight Jose Aldo, the timing just isn't right. Edgar sees himself at lightweight. How could he not? He defeated B.J. Penn twice. He avenged his only loss, knocking out the bigger, stronger Gray Maynard. "The Answer" said Henderson wasn't overpowering at 155 pounds, too.
The Edgar camp is angling for a pay-per-view attraction somewhere in the U.S. but nothing has been finalized. According to Aziz, Edgar's uptick in popularity could influence the PPV discussion.
In the week and a half since judges scored the title bout unanimously for Henderson, Edgar more than doubled his following on Twitter to nearly 160,000. It probably helped that during the Daytona 500, FOX debuted a national commercial featuring Edgar choke out a tiger before taking it home with him -- just a typical afternoon at the zoo for Toms River, N.J.'s 30-year-old married father of two.
Another possibility should be the FOX card at Staples Center in Los Angeles on Aug. 4. Henderson surely earned that showcase when his manic bout against Clay Guida wasn’t shown the night UFC debuted on FOX.
For everyone not named Anthony Pettis, the rematch is win-win. “Showtime” was, for a short time, in line to be Henderson’s first challenger. Odds are high he’ll still have his chance this year, and if Pettis makes good on it he could very well learn what it’s like to gain the type of respect the UFC showed Edgar.
For that respect, White's wishes will not be forgotten.
Abdel-Aziz said Edgar will move to 145, likely before the end of the year, even if he's standing champion. Not only would Edgar fight at featherweight, the manager continued, he’s open to 135.
At close to 160 pounds, the truth is Edgar doesn't walk around much heavier than Dominick Cruz or Urijah Faber. He’s capable and willing to make the weight -- an opportunity to hold belts in multiple divisions is apparently that enticing for the ambitious fighter.
History says this is impossible. Zuffa doesn’t allow champions to compete for belts in other weight categories. But, for what it's worth, Abdel-Aziz spoke as if it was a genuine possibility.
Wearing a title or not, Edgar’s presence elevates the earning potential of top featherweights, bantamweights and Zuffa. Everything boosts if he bests Henderson, of course. But say Edgar is blown out of the water this summer, the attention he'll bring to 145 and 135 remains a valuable and viable Plan B.
When the move is made, Aldo-Edgar instantly registers among the best fights Zuffa can promote. The same could be true of Cruz-Edgar, especially if the former lightweight champ tastes the title at 145.
Winning his way down makes this all come together; otherwise, Edgar might slip. Quick. After losing to Henderson (again) and Aldo, where would that put him? Then again, it’s fair to wonder what beating Henderson and the Brazilian champion would do for him.
For the time being, feel free to think of Frankie Edgar, a guy that doesn’t blink in staring contests, as the answer to his own question.