After losing back-to-back bouts to current champ Benson Henderson, former UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar knew it would be a long road back to title contention as long as Henderson held the belt.
As much as he had tired of the prodding from UFC president Dana White and questions from fans and media about moving to featherweight, it seemed after the second loss to Henderson that the timing was finally right for Edgar to make the move.
He just didn’t expect that his drop to 145 pounds would bear fruit so quickly.
Edgar had originally expected to take his next fight sometime around December, having just fought Henderson in early August. When Erik Koch went down due to injury, leaving UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo without a UFC 153 opponent, the call went out, immediately altering Edgar’s path to 145.
“This is a great opportunity I'm handed here. It’s something that I didn't think would happen this quick,” Edgar told MMAWeekly Radio.
“It was an easy call on my part. I had fought less than three weeks ago when I got the call. I had an injury-free fight. I felt really good. I was already back in the gym a little bit. It's an opportunity you can't let slip.”
That’s not to say that Edgar believes that a victory over Aldo will be as easy as being granted the opportunity.
Having stumbled only once in his professional career, Aldo’s sole loss dates back to 2005. In the following seven years, he has won 14 consecutive bouts, most of them by a devastating knockout.
Aldo maintains victories over Chad Mendes, Kenny Florian, Urijah Faber, Mike Brown, Mark Hominick, and numerous other top fighters in the sport.
“I've always been a fan of Jose Aldo,” said Edgar. “He's an exciting fighter to watch. He brings it every fight. One of the best strikers we've got in the UFC. I'm pumped for this fight.
“He's such a dynamic striker. He can get you with his hands, his feet. He can kind of do it all as far as his stand-up goes. He's got a really good ground game that no one has really seen before. He's gonna be a tough opponent, no doubt.”
At 14-3-1, Edgar is no slouch either. He’s spent the past several years fighting the top fighters in the world, including Benson Henderson, Gray Maynard, and BJ Penn during his path down the lightweight championship road.
His skills are perhaps as sharp as Aldo’s, but there is one element that could play into his favor. Edgar has lost his belt, while Aldo has not.
That may seem counterintuitive, but sometimes you don’t realize just how badly you want something until it’s gone… and that can be a mighty powerful force.
“Like I said before, once you taste it, you want it back badly,” Edgar stated. “I'm just happy that come five, six weeks from now, I'm gonna have the opportunity to make that happen.”
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- Benson Henderson