NEW YORK — Frankie Edgar had to dig deep for three rounds, but the New Jersey native outlasted Jeremy Stephens in a three-round battle in the featured prelim on FS1.
This was the first fight back for Edgar after he failed to capture the interim featherweight title from Jose Aldo back in July at UFC 200.
It was a disappointing outing for the former champion the last time he stepped into the Octagon, so Edgar clearly wanted to set the pace in his fight with Stephens using good footwork to slip inside and look for the takedown.
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Edgar put Stephens down twice in the opening round, but to his credit the veteran knockout artist got right back to his feet without taking much damage.
The former lightweight champion looked to apply the same game plan in the second round, but once again he failed to keep Stephens grounded.
Back on the feet, Stephens took advantage with a huge head kick that clipped Edgar and dropped him to the mat as the crowd in New York was silenced for a moment.
Throughout his career, Edgar has shown incredible toughness and durability so he was able to withstand the shot and eventually work his way back to the feet.
Despite the knockdown, Edgar quickly got his legs back under him, taking Stephens down and nearly locking up a guillotine choke as the round game to an end.
The third round saw Edgar plant Stephens on the mat early, but he was still unable to maintain top position for very long. Stephens consistently frustrated Edgar with his ability to work his way back to the feet, but couldn’t quite land another strike like he had with the knockdown in the second.
Through fast footwork and good movement, Edgar consistently outworked Stephens on the feet while avoiding any more haymakers from the one-punch knockout striker.
When it was over, the judges all agreed that Edgar had done enough to win as he earned the unanimous decision as the crowd in Madison Square Garden erupted in approval.
With the victory, Edgar jumps right back in the deep end of the featherweight division as he continues his pursuit of another UFC title.