What do you get when you’ve lost three straight fights against two of the top five pound for pound fighters in the world by a collective six rounds? You’ve got Frankie Edgar’s career right now and a three fight losing streak which under any normal definition in an MMA career would have Edgar looking outside the UFC for fights. But when you’ve lost three straight many thought you won, and they’re against two of the very best fighters in the world, you won’t be looking for fights outside Zuffa anytime soon.
But Edgar is going to be out of the title picture for some time … and that’s not a bad thing.
Anytime you lose three straight anything it’s not good and Edgar is on a losing streak that’s difficult to fathom. He took two rounds, arguably three, from Jose Aldo and did the same twice to Benson Henderson. Few people can say that about either fighter, much less just one, and the fact that Edgar has been so close for so long only validates a lot of people’s thoughts that he’s still among the Top 10 fighters in either weight division as well as among the best regardless of weight class. It’s just that now, with no immediate rematch warranted against Aldo, Edgar is now in a career bind.
He’s got three options, essentially, and the good thing is that there are a plethora of matchups available for him.
Move back up to Lightweight – Dana White is against this but Frankie Edgar is still the second best lightweight in the world. He could potentially get a third shot at Benson Henderson with a substantive win streak but unfortunately he’s in the same spot in this division as Josh Koscheck is a weight class above and Chael Sonnen is to Anderson Silva; he’s come at the king twice and missed twice.
He’ll need a five to six fight win streak over a murderer’s row of opponents to get back in the picture. He can do it, of course, because he’s the best lightweight out there that isn’t Benson Henderson. Unfortunately he won’t get contenders on the rise for a while and those are the types of fights that get you the big paydays.
He could also choose to move back up for “interesting” fights if he’s willing to forgo any chance of getting a title shot again. There are a number of great fights waiting for him at lightweight if he wants. A fight between him and Melvin Guillard, Donald Cerrone and a number of other failed contenders that won’t be near the mountaintop anytime soon could be fun from a fan’s perspective. Usually those types of fights are for guys who are winding their careers up and want the interesting fights more than relevant ones.
But a guy who loses two title fights and then drops down to challenge Jose Aldo wants to hold UFC gold one more time, plain and simple. This leads us to our next option.
Stay at Featherweight – The likely option and with Aldo’s time in the division coming to an end he’ll be able to be in the title picture for some time to come. Frankie’s cut to 145 is still fairly easy for him. It’s a bit rougher than when his natural walking around weight of 155 at lightweight is taken into consideration but the key is that he looked like he belonged at 145.
The key thing here is that he’s starting at the back of the pack when it comes to getting a title shot. Edgar lost, and lost definitively, to Jose Aldo. He wasn’t stopped as awfully as Chad Mendes was but Jose Aldo was the clear winner. If he hadn’t had an immediate rematch and two straight losses going into this fight he could have argued his way into one. Staring four straight losses in title fights in the face couldn’t be easy for the UFC and they’d have a difficult time giving him another with a second loss to Aldo. But he’s not out of the picture yet.
He’ll need another couple of wins at this point to get back to a title eliminator, of course, but if he can beat a prospect (or someone on the decline) and then work his way back up in 2-3 fights he’ll be back in the mix. He’s had his shot at Aldo and lost; not spectacularly but it’s still a loss. The UFC can’t justify an immediate rematch in this case and for good reason. But there are a handful of good fights out there for him. He could also do something Kevin Iole of Yahoo suggested, which makes sense in a lot of ways too.
Drop even further to Bantamweight – Can Frankie make bantamweight? Probably he could if he worked at it. Featherweight was an “easy” cut for him and if he buckled down he could drop to bantamweight and perhaps be one of the larger fighters in the division. He’d be in the same spot as he would at featherweight, as he isn’t getting another immediate title shot, but he wouldn’t be that far from the top either.
Bantamweight is getting thicker by the day, of course, and Frankie enters in the same spot as Urijah Faber. Not far from the top but going to need some good fortune to continue to be in the elite of the division.