Frankie Edgar: Finding the Answer

Just over eighteen months ago, Frankie Edgar was set for yet another title fight. Scheduled to take on Max Holloway at UFC 218, Edgar would once again look to secure the UFC Featherweight crown. However, less than a month prior to fight night, an injury would remove Edgar from the bout, with former champion Jose Aldo taking his place. Holloway remained champion nonetheless, repeating his previous feat and scoring a 2nd straight stoppage win over the legendary Brazilian. Thankfully for Edgar, that meant that he’d still get his shot after all.

However, their rescheduled title tilt suffered the same fate, with an injury removing Holloway on this occasion. Just as Holloway had a few months earlier, Edgar would receive a new opponent, now fighting Brian Ortega on March 3rd 2018. ‘The Answer’ was certainly an underdog opposite Holloway but a different perception surrounded his bout with Ortega. Though a formidable and rising contender, Ortega’s name didn’t come with the same aura that Edgar or Holloway’s did. Instead, he appeared to simply be a top contender, the kind of foe that Edgar usually found a way to conquer.

In fact, Edgar was 7-2 since moving to Featherweight and had only lost to the aforementioned Aldo. In non-title bouts, he was unbeaten at 145 lbs, dominating multiple contenders along the way. However, Ortega was undefeated and as a result, this new challenge certainly required Edgar’s full attention. With that being said, Edgar was unique figure, forever a champion regardless of whether a title currently belonged around his waist. Few fighters in history had personified consistency better, a true professional that regardless of foe, competed until the bitter end.

Against future hall of famers, Edgar had historically hung tough, only ever suffering defeat on the scorecards in often close, competitive fights. Opposite Ortega though, that trend and others would be brought to a halt. For the first time in a decade, Edgar would lose a non-title bout but more shocking than that, he’d be stopped too, falling victim to a knockout punch in the very first round. Though the truth was far more balanced, that visual felt truly altering at the time.

In the moment, Edgar’s established brilliance almost felt erased. After years of being immovable, ‘The Answer’ had met a new question and perhaps after all these years, his fortunes had now changed. In reality, Edgar had simply experienced an inevitable result, a reminder that no matter how admirable these titans can be, they each remain so staggeringly human. Edgar’s contender status felt silenced that night but one shortcoming didn’t destroy a career of success. Far from it in fact.

Instead, Edgar responded as only he could, accepting a bout just weeks later and returning under two months after the first knockout loss of his career. The fight would be a rematch with Cub Swanson and just like last time, Edgar won handily, this time scoring a unanimous decision victory. From a far, the matchup appeared to be almost unnecessarily risky but Edgar saw something different, rushing back to the scene of the crime and returning to the win column right away.

One year later and Edgar will receive the opportunity that had once been taken from him. For the 3rd time, the former Lightweight champion was booked to fight Max Holloway and this Saturday night in Canada, that bout will finally take place. If Edgar was an underdog when these two originally signed to fight each other, then that status has only increased since. While Holloway recently had his historic win streak halted at Lightweight, he now returns to his 145 pound throne, taking on an admittedly inactive Edgar.

It’s hard to imagine that Edgar remains in the center of his prime but once upon a time, it was even harder to imagine him dethroning the iconic BJ Penn. He certainly did that though, twice outpointing the 155 pound kingpin and becoming UFC Lightweight Champion. While those triumphs serve as nothing but a distant memory for most fans, you can’t help but recall them in the lead-up to this Holloway bout. Those wins alone make Edgar forever formidable, they gave him a know-how, an inerasable self-belief that’s since propelled him to hall of fame heights.

At UFC 240, Frankie Edgar is an undeniable underdog. However, the educated viewer will be hesitant to write him off. Logic and analysis will lead most to picking Holloway but they’ll do so with a moment of consideration. It’s been years since a UFC title rested on Edgar’s shoulder but his stature feels no lesser for it. This will be Edgar’s third attempt at securing a piece of the UFC Featherweight Title and at this point of his career, it’ll likely be his final chance at the gold too.

It’s a testament to Edgar though that in his unique case, that element only makes an upset seem more feasible. Now 37 years of age, Edgar will be very much aware of these stakes and as a result, feels all the more dangerous in his favored underdog position. Will Frankie Edgar finally become a two-weight UFC champion this weekend? Well, that remains unclear. However, considering his history and the importance of this moment in particular, it’s hard to imagine that he’ll leave the octagon wondering “what if?”

Like most great fighters, Edgar is no stranger to controversial decisions but if nothing else, let’s hope that at UFC 240, ‘The Answer’ isn’t left pondering more questions. A genuine legend, Edgar is still here to be a champion and against Holloway, he’ll find out whether that ultimate feet remains truly possible. That’s the answer Edgar is really seeking in this matchup. After all, that’s the only question he has left.

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