ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — People wondered why Frankie Edgar would agree to fight B.J. Penn again after Edgar already beat him twice previously. Now, a little more than a week after the bout, it remains a valid question.
Edgar destroyed Penn and won via third-round TKO at the TUF Finale on July 6 in Las Vegas. In the post-fight press conference, Penn announced his retirement. The entire night ended up being all about Penn and his legacy. Lost in the nostalgia of the legend’s career was that Edgar looked extremely impressive in finishing him.
Not that Edgar is complaining. That wouldn’t be in his nature.
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"It’s deserving," Edgar said Tuesday before UFC Fight Night: Cerrone vs. Miller weigh-ins at Revel. "I think it would be pretty s***** of me to be like, ‘What about me now?’ It’s kind of his time."
Would I do the show again and take a year off fighting again? Never again.
Edgar (17-4-1) isn’t the kind of guy to tell the UFC "no" to anything. So it was little surprise that when UFC president Dana White approached him last summer about coaching on The Ultimate Fighter opposite Penn that Edgar agreed immediately. No one was really clamoring for a third fight between the two, except for Penn, who dropped down to featherweight for the first time in his illustrious career just for the chance to meet Edgar again.
Coaching TUF had always been intriguing to Edgar given that most of the big-name stars in the UFC have done it. He felt it was a logical next step in his career. What he didn’t bargain on was being out of action for so long. The Ultimate Fighter 19 filmed last November and only started airing on FOX Sports 1 in April. Edgar thought he would be fighting Penn in April. Before last week, Edgar’s last bout was almost exactly one year ago, a decision win over Charles Oliveira at UFC 162.
"Would I do the show again and take a year off fighting again? Never again," Edgar said. "That was definitely the downside, but it’s all past me now, so I’m not really dwelling on it."
That year off put Edgar’s title contention hopes on ice. Chad Mendes has earned the No. 1 contender spot and will meet Jose Aldo sometime in the fall when Aldo gets healthy. Behind Mendes is Cub Swanson, who is coming off a big win over Jeremy Stephens last month in San Antonio. All Edgar really has to show for being on the shelf for 12 months is some money in his pocket from TUF and a victory over a fading Penn.
Frankie Edgar dealt a pretty firm beatdown to B.J. Penn last week in Las Vegas.
"It wasn’t that bad," Edgar said. "I still fought, I still made money. I still thought I looked good."
In Edgar’s mind, next up for him should be Swanson, even though Swanson has been promised a title shot. Edgar is ranked No. 2 in the UFC’s official featherweight contender rankings behind Mendes and Swanson is No. 3. On paper, Edgar-Swanson in a title eliminator seems pretty logical, though both men have already lost to Aldo. Then again, so has Mendes.
"I think that makes most sense for me [and] for the weight class itself," Edgar said. "Not just for myself. For [Swanson], too."
Another possibility, probably not right away, is a matchup with Urijah Faber. Edgar and Faber are two of the most popular lighter weight fighters in MMA history. But both are still legitimate title contenders in separate weight classes (Faber is at bantamweight), so that dream fight is still probably a year or more away.
Edgar is chasing interesting fights and that’s certainly one of them. At age 32, though, he still feels like he’s in his prime and improving. The New Jersey native still wants another crack at the title.
He might have been stuck in neutral for the past year waiting for the Penn fight, but Edgar is over it. The way he figures it, he has five more prime years left and then who knows? Put it this way — he’s not going anywhere anytime soon.
"I’m competitive enough that even when I’m on the tail end, I’m gonna make it a fight anyway," Edgar said.