When you see the words “UFC Undisputed,” I wouldn’t blame you if you immediately thought of the THQ video game of the same name. However, just this once, I want you to think of UFC Lightweight Champion Frankie Edgar.
Think about Edgar’s two 2010 wins over BJ Penn. Then think about his January 1, 2011, draw against longtime nemesis Gray Maynard—after a Rocky Balboa-like comeback. Now, think about last month’s UFC 136 trilogy fight against Maynard and the fourth-round TKO by the Champ after another Hollywood-like comeback. If you are still a non-believer in calling Edgar the undisputed UFC Lightweight Champion, then I don’t know how you can call yourself an educated fight fan.
Even Dana White—who by all accounts is THE final word on most things concerning the sport that he helped build—says Frankie should be considered the number two best pound-for-pound fighter in the world.
“If you really look at what pound-for-pound means, you cannot deny that Frankie Edgar is number two,” White said. “The guy weighs 145 pounds and he’s beating guys at 155 pounds. He beat a guy who had him out of it—a guy who many believed had his number. He knocked him out tonight. I’m telling you, I’ve never seen any shit like that in my life.”
Brian Stann (UFC Middleweight): “I think he’s incredible and his victories come from more than just physical skills. Of all the champions in the UFC, Frankie has the most qualities a man should emulate. He is a champion of life, not just the Octagon.”
Eddie Alvarez (Bellator Lightweight Champion): “Not just beating Gray Maynard, but knocking Gray Maynard out, which has never been done by anyone before, has solidified his place as the number one lightweight in the world. The people who say ‘Frankie can’t finish, Frankie can’t beat Gray,’ he showed everybody that little guys have power too. There are no questions anymore. The actions speak for themselves. The doubters can’t deny him anymore.”
Ariel Helwani (AOL News): “Perhaps it’s due to his size, or perhaps it’s due to his lack of trash-talking skills, either way, it feels like it took fans a little longer to get behind the notion that Frankie Edgar is one of the best fighters in the world. But after the heart he showed in the second Maynard fight, and then the power he showed in the third, it finally feels like the MMA community has embraced Edgar. It also feels like everyone realizes he’s a natural featherweight, which has added to his appeal. In short, Edgar has won his critics over the old-fashioned way, which seems apropos given his character and his fighting style.”
Jon Anik (ESPN): “The performance put forth by Frankie Edgar at UFC 136 is the stuff great champions are made of. If there is a tougher fighter on the UFC roster, I haven’t found him. Edgar proved he is, irrefutably, the best lightweight in the world, and he’s also being mentioned with the greatest MMA lightweights of all time, and rightfully so.”
Gray Maynard (UFC Lightweight): “He’s a tough kid to beat. I think him, Jon Jones, Anderson, and GSP—they’re all up there. I hit him a bunch. I don’t know. I don’t know if he has a button that puts him out…I hit him with a knee. I hit him with a right. I think I hit him on a hook. What else? If there was a bat there, I probably would have hit him with that too.”
Dana White (UFC President): Think about all the fights we’ve seen in the last 10 years. How many times do you see where a guy goes out and gets hurt as bad as he did in the first round? I’ll tell you, that’s movie shit. That stuff doesn’t really happen in real life. There’s two guys I’ve seen do it, Arturo Gatti and Frankie Edgar. That’s it. What he did the last time and this time, he’s an amazing human being, an incredible athlete, and he’s got a heart the size of this room. And that’s no promoter bullshit either.”
No bullshit indeed. After the fight, I ran into Neven Dravinski, the executive producer of the video game “UFC Undisputed,” who was in Houston unveiling the latest version of the game at the UFC Fan Expo. I told him that he needs to adjust some of Edgar’s specs in the game. “No doubt,” said Dravinsky. “We’re going to have to come up with something special.”
Later, as I sat on the floor in Frankie’s suite amongst Edgar’s family and fight team, a knock on the door produced former UFC Lightweight Champion Sean Sherk. “The Muscle Shark” wanted to congratulate Frankie on a great fight. Sherk didn’t stay long, but his classy sentiment lingered throughout the night. It was a fitting account, considering it was a win against Sherk in 2009 that put Edgar on the road to where he resides today.
“Congratulations Frankie,” said Sherk. “Great fight man. Awesome job.”
Yeah, what he said.
In-Depth Interviews With the Biggest Names in Mixed Martial Arts by Mike Straka (Triumph Books).
MMA broadcast journalist and FIGHT! contributor Mike Straka brings his HDNet television show to paperback form with Fighting Words from Triumph Books. With profiles on Dana White, Frankie Edgar, Frank Shamrock, and more, Straka paints a clear picture of some of the men who have shaped— and continue to shape—the sport of mixed martial arts. Be sure to pick the book up at bookstores or online.