Hot Tweets: Frankie Edgar’s bantamweight debut and his future in the division

Frankie Edgar weighs in for UFC 205 at Madison Square Garden.

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Last weekend, and after many years of waiting, Frankie Edgar finally made his bantamweight debut. It was a good night for ‘The Answer’ as the 38-year-old former lightweight champion won a split decision over Pedro Munhoz and rocketed himself into the rankings becoming, I believe (didn’t fact check this) the first person to ever be ranked within the top-five in three different divisions in the UFC.

But did Frankie deserve to win? Opinions differ so let’s discuss what happened at UFC Vegas 7 and what’s in store for Frankie Edgar.


Did Frankie deserve to win?

Well, Frankie won the fight because that’s what goes down in the record books, but no, I don’t believe he deserved it.

Full credit to Edgar who, at 38 years old and dropping down a division for the first time, looked almost as good as ever, but I think the fact that he showed he still had it played heavier in the judges’ minds than his actual performance. He was active, he threw a ton on the counter, and he landed a great many strikes, and some takedowns. Basically, he was Frankie Edgar for 25 minutes. But he also got beat up during that 25 minutes.

Munhoz landed by far the more powerful strikes and his leg kicks had Frankie’s leg jacked up. Furthermore, Pedro also kept pace with his jab marking Frankie up. This is not one of those fights where Munhoz landed more damage but Edgar had the edge in volume; Munhoz landed 31 more punches and he did it while coming forward the entire time. Honestly, it’s fairly shocking that Edgar got his hand raised and the only reason I think it happened is the nostalgia factor. Otherwise, that fight was closer to a 49-46 Munhoz scorecard then it was 48-47 Edgar.


Who should Frankie fight next?

Easy, the same person he should have fought for his debut: Dominick Cruz.

Edgar is in a complicated spot promotionally. At 38, he clearly wants one more title run but the top of the division, which he now finds himself ensconced in, is basically all people that would beat him. God love the man, but he’s not beating Marlon Moraes, Aljamain Sterling, Cody Garbrandt, or Cory Sandhagen. He also isn’t beating Jose Aldo because he never has and never will. Which means, if you are the UFC, and interested in getting him a title shot, you have incredibly limited options. Basically, you can either book him against one of the above-mentioned names and hope for a minor miracle, or you book him against Dominick Cruz.

Cruz is “the greatest bantamweight of all time” according to the UFC and he’s coming off a failed title shot. Moreover, he’s also a big name and there’s a marketable angle to promote here of the two legends making one last run of it. And it’s a fight Edgar can win (though he can also lose it). You book Edgar-Cruz for early next year, by then Petr Yan and Aljo have settled up and Edgar can get the winner of the Yan/Aljo-Moraes/Sandhagen fight that seems inevitable.

Easy game.


Title aspirations

Slim to none.

Let’s be clear, there isn’t a “some point in the future” for Frankie Edgar. He’s turning 39 in October and he’s competing at a weight class where fighters age like fast food french fries. He needs a title shot in the next 10 months to have any hope whatsoever, and as I addressed above, even getting him there is a tricky proposition.

But if you did get him there? I just don’t see how he does it. Whoever holds the belt, he’d be running into a vastly superior athlete. And it’s not like Edgar is a renown power puncher who could at least try to George Foreman his old ass to a belt. Edgar would have to outwork the champ over 25 minutes, and good luck outworking Petr Yan. Let me know how that plan goes for you.

By my estimation, Frankie Edgar is one of the 10 best fighters of all-time. He’s a first ballot Hall of Famer and part of a very elite few that have ever beaten a top-10 opponent in three different weight classes. At this point, I don’t think he can possibly win a title in any weight class, but that doesn’t detract from the incredible career he’s had and is still having. Nothing but respect to Frankie Edgar (even if he did outright rob B.J. Penn in their first fight).


Jon Jones, heavyweight

Absolutely. If he doesn’t, somebody screwed up in a major, major way. Of all the fighters who deserve an immediate title shot, Jon Jones is at the top of the list. He’s probably the best fighter ever, and more to the point, the light heavyweight division shouldn’t exist. Anything above 185 pounds should just be declared heavyweight because those two divisions are paper thin and mostly terrible.


Jon Jones, heavyweight champion

Well, I think Francis Ngannou is going to knock out Stipe Miocic in their rematch, claiming the heavyweight title, so that means Jones is going to have to beat Ngannou. I’m not actually sure he will do that, but if he does, I imagine it would look very similar to Stipe’s win over Ngannou.

Jon Jones the fighter is an interesting paradox of being vastly overrated at many things and underrated at many others. For instance, Jones and most fans believe he is a good out-fighter. He actually sucks at it. It’s why should’ve lost to Dominick Reyes and nearly lost to Thiago Santos. Jones’ footwork is mediocre and his boxing is adequate at best. But because he has massive physical advantages that would work well for an out-fighter, he has now become one, despite showing no predilection for it.

Conversely, Jones is the best interior fighter in the sport’s history. His work from the clinch is sublime and terrifying, and coincidentally that is where he would be best served against Ngannou anyway. If Jones tries to oblique Francis to death, he’s liable to get clipped by a haymaker and slept. Instead, he’ll need to get inside of Ngannou and smother his power, and then work the bigger man over with elbows, knees, and takedowns. And woe betide Ngannou if Jones can get him down. Stipe might lay on you and pitter-pat his way to a decision but Jonny Bones ain’t gonna play those games. Hellbows are coming.

So, I suppose that’s how he wins, he closes the distances, trips Ngannou to the floor, and then elbows his face in. Or, if Stipe does win, well, Stipe has next to no chance. Jon is just a terrible matchup for him and Jon probably wins however he sees fit.


Featherweight

Well, I think there are simpler ways but I’ll do as requested:

First, Max Holloway moves up to lightweight because he’s done plenty at 145 and I want to see him fight Tony Ferguson.

Second, my bracket looks like this:

Brian Ortega vs. Chan Sung JungJacks up the rankings plan but the beef needs to be settled.

Josh Emmett vs. Arnold Allen – Gotta voice first-round rematches.

Zabit Magomedsharipov vs. Ryan Hall – You can’t tell me Ryan Hall doesn’t have a real chance to play spoiler here.

Yair Rodriguez vs. Calvin KattarThere will be violence.

Realistically though, the real answer for clarity at 145 is already in front of us: the winner of Brian Ortega vs. Korean Zombie is the next title challenger. Aside from it being a big fight, both men are deserving of the shot at Volkanovski and, sorry Zabit, but you need one more win before you can get a title shot. Them’s the breaks, 15-minute man.


Ben Askren

It’s a really tough call but I think there is only one name that makes sense. There just aren’t any obvious candidates for him to fight. All the people Askren beefed with during his brief UFC stint are, to be blunt, too good to fight him and anyone of comparable talent skill would not have a name he’d be interested in. Then there’s the third category of big name fighters who would be an even matchup for him but who would have zero interest in that fight (a Venn diagram of this category and Nate Diaz is a perfect circle).

So who does that leave us with? Anderson Silva.

Let’s be real, win, lose, or draw, Andy Silver isn’t retiring after the Uriah Hall fight. The Spider will continue on, break our hearts and his body in his never ending quest for self-immolation. So who can he hurt himself against the lease? Why none other than Benjamin Askren! This fight would basically be the Dollar Store version of Silva-GSP we all wanted for so long and in the end, it could even be a dumb kind of fun.

Make it happen, Dana!


Thanks for reading this week, and thank you for everyone who sent in Tweets! Do you have any burning questions about at least tangentially related to combat sports? Then you’re in luck, because you can send your Hot Tweets to me, @JedKMeshew and I will answer them! Doesn’t matter if they’re topical or insane. Get weird with it. Let’s have fun.

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