The Fight Horizon – Charles Oliveira vs. Frankie Edgar
UFC 162 just got a whole lot more interesting, especially for the entire featherweight division. Chan Sung Jung is set to return from injury to face Ricardo Lamas, in a fight which is in all likelihood a title eliminator for the next shot at the FW championship. Two more bouts involving top 5 fighters were just announced, with former UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar meeting Charles Oliveira and potential FW title hopeful Cub Swanson facing off against Dennis Siver. So on Fourth of July weekend five of the best FW fighters on the planet (not named Jose Aldo) will be fighting.
The Matchup: Charles “Do Bronx” Oliveira vs. Frankie “The Answer” Edgar
“Do Bronx” got pummeled by Cub Swanson in his last fight, illustrating his weaknesses in the standup game. Oliveira was on a two fight win streak before that, winning both of those fights (and many others) by submission. He finished Jonathan Brookins with a guillotine and before that made quick work of Eric Wisely with a beautiful calf slicer submission in the first round.
“The Answer” is 0 for 3 since finishing Gray Maynard in their trilogy fight two years ago, although all three of those losses have been in title fights against two of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world, and close losses at that. After back to back losses against Benson Henderson at LW, he moved down a weight class for a superfight against Jose Aldo and a shot at the FW championship. Aldo proved to be better than Edgar, although Edgar once again was very game.
The Date: July 6th, 2013 at UFC 162 in Las Vegas, NV
Weight Class: Featherweight
What led to it: Both of these guys lost in their last fights, so it’s the classic matchup of two guys who need to get back in the W column. Edgar happens to be much higher ranked at this point, but both guys are in need of a winnable fight.
Why it matters:
Oliveira may well be fighting for his job against Edgar, a tough task for anyone, including UFC champions. He’s 2-1 since dropping to FW, but 4-3 in the UFC overall. He lasted all of half a round against Cub Swanson, a top 5 fighter with dangerous striking. Take a look at his losses at lightweight (Jim Miller and Donald Cerrone) and his last fight against Swanson and it’s clear Oliveira isn’t ready for big time fights against elite fighters. His BJJ is very, very good, but the days of one-dimensional fighters are long gone. Elite jiu-jitsu will only get you so far in professional MMA these days and eventually you’ll run into someone who is skilled enough to beat you (like Cub Swanson).
Many people would argue that Frankie Edgar is not a step down from Cub Swanson, that in fact he may be a step up. It’s a tough situation for Oliveira to find himself in, going from a loss against an elite guy in Swanson to a matchup with a former lightweight champion who survived all five rounds (and won one) against Jose Aldo. He’s going to have a significant height advantage, but if he doesn’t show improved stand-up defense then Edgar is going to dance around him all night.
Frankie Edgar on the other hand, is now on a three fight losing streak and although his opponents were the best of the best, a three fight losing streak is still hard to get around no matter who the opponents are. It’s unlikely that Edgar loses this fight, but it is possible and a loss here would be a bad sign and might eventually lead to Edgar being shown the door. Edgar is clearly a world class fighter and he’s going to be too good for almost everyone in the division, but he just can’t get over that hump in championship fights, much like Urijah Faber. Renan Barao has the interim title at bantamweight, so Edgar may now be the unofficial “best fighter to not hold a title” title holder. This fight is Edgar’s to lose, so look for him to right the ship and stay secure at the top of the division. If Lamas vs. Jung is a title eliminator, we may see the winner of this fight getting the winner of Swanson vs. Siver in the future.