COMMENTARY | The old adage, "never leave it in the hands of the judges," has arguably never rung more true than during former UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar's recent three-fight losing streak.
Now heading into his UFC 162 featherweight bout with Charles Oliveira at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on July 6, Edgar is not only trying to avoid his fourth-straight loss, he's trying to stay in the title mix.
"It's definitely frustrating," said the 31-year-old of his first career losing streak during a pre-fight interview with the UFC. "I prepare a lot. I'm not disappointed in my performances. I think showing up and being able to do what you did during camp is very important. I felt I did that in all last three of my fights, but it just didn't happen to go my way. It's almost like being in a wrestling tournament and taking second. They were close, and I lost, but I didn't get dominated. I didn't get stopped."
UFC 162 marks Edgar's first non-title fight since 2009. "The Answer," who only had one loss on his record through the first 16 fights of his career, began his run of five-rounders with consecutive wins over future UFC Hall of Famer B.J. Penn before registering a draw and a knockout of rival Gray Maynard.
The knockout was only his third stoppage in 14 UFC contests dating back to UFC 67 in 2006.
Then Edgar (15-4-1, four KO/TKOs) ran into Benson Henderson at UFC 144. Henderson dethroned the New Jersey native with the first of back-to-back hotly debated decision losses, which also triggered a drop to the featherweight division. Edgar received an immediate title shot at UFC 156 in February but lost the close decision to Jose Aldo.
Against Oliveira, 23, Edgar needs a major turnaround to shake his slump. Moreover, the UFC's No. 3-ranked featherweight needs a finish.
"This is a blessing in disguise, I feel like, going back to a three-round fight," said Edgar, who has the third-longest average fight time in the UFC at 18 minutes, 18 seconds per bout. "I'm going to go out there early and make sure first round that I'm in his face and I'm in the rhythm I like to be in the fourth and fifth. Because when I get back to title fights I want to be able to do that right away in the first round."
Oliveira (16-3-0, nine submissions) has recorded stoppage victories in all but one of his 16 career wins but is coming off a loss to Cub Swanson at UFC 152. However, with highlight wins coming against Jonathan Brookins, Efrain Escudero and Darren Elkins, the 5-foot-11 Brazilian hardly boasts the same level of experience as Edgar.
Though not ranked among the UFC's top 10 featherweights, Oliveira's six knockouts complement his submission game and make him very dangerous nonetheless.
"I'm just going to push the pace and fight my fight. A lot of it has to do with stand-up, so that's something I'm going to utilize in this fight," said Edgar, who stands 5-feet, 6-inches tall. "He's a tall guy, I'm going to be the shorter guy. He's a little skinny compared to the some of the other guys I've fought at 155, where they were tall and big, you know. But I'm down with David and Goliath. David won, so I'm down with being David.
"This victory just gets me back to the winning side of things," he added. "I see getting a clear-cut win and working my way back to a title shot."
Paul Putignano lives in Southern California, where he has covered mixed martial arts and a wide array of sports across the Greater Los Angeles area. His work has been published in a variety of newspapers and online publications.
- Sports & Recreation
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- Frankie Edgar
- Charles Oliveira