LAS VEGAS – Rashad Evans was a no-show. So, too, were Alistair Overeem, Jon Fitch and Ian McCall. None of the losers at UFC 156 on Saturday bothered to show for the post-fight news conference at the Mandalay Bay Events Center, save for one.
A battered, bloodied and beaten Frankie Edgar arrived midway through an event he surely didn't want to attend, to answer questions he didn't want to hear and that, in truth, he couldn't really answer.
He stared blankly into the distance, contemplating a future that is extraordinarily complicated.
He remains, as UFC president Dana White said following his unanimous decision loss to Jose Aldo in their featherweight title fight, one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the business.
Edgar, though, must face the cold, harsh reality of a very different world. He's going to continue to get significant fights. White has great affection for him and, given Edgar's penchant for competing in fan-friendly matches, that's understandable.
Edgar teamed with Aldo to put on a Fight of the Night performance in their title fight Saturday, which should have been no shock to those who know his history.
[More UFC 156: Jose Aldo gets unexpected challenge after win over Frankie Edgar]
During his streak of competing in seven consecutive UFC title fights, he's been in Fight of the Night three times and added a Knockout of the Night for good measure.
Things change for fighters who have lost three in a row, no matter how exciting those bouts have been. Edgar's fans will argue he could have been given the decision in each of those bouts he dropped, particularly the rematch with Benson Henderson at UFC 150.
The loss to Aldo came with the least amount of controversy, though there are plenty of longtime MMA observers who feel Edgar swept the final three rounds Saturday and thus should have become the new featherweight champion.
That simply illustrates how thin the line has become between winning and losing at the top level. But Edgar didn't get those wins and now he's staring at a three-fight losing streak and a potential drop down one more division.
In the wake of yet another hugely disappointing defeat, Edgar hadn't given thought to his future.
Bantamweight, though, would seem to be a logical place for him to be, given that he'd finally have a physical advantage over most of his competitors.
He's lost two lightweight title fights in a row and, no matter how close they were, it would be unfair to give him another shot any time soon given those losses and the large number of qualified challengers.
If Aldo stays at featherweight, his future may include a fight with Anthony Pettis, as well as guys like Ricardo Lamas and, potentially, Dustin Poirier. There'd be no room at the top for Edgar any time soon at featherweight, either.
[More UFC 156: 'Big Foot' upsets Alistair Overeem, wins with brutal KO]
He could, though, get into the bantamweight title picture fairly quickly. One win over a top contender should be enough to earn him a chance at the championship.
He's a competitor and long resisted dropping from lightweight. Though he doesn't say it, he likely sees moving down in weight as a sign of surrender, some sort of unspoken admission that he's not good enough to compete against the bigger men.
Clearly, he is. But given how much size he surrenders to opponents at lightweight, everything has to go perfectly in order for him to win.
There are plenty of featherweights who are physically bigger than Edgar, as well.
Though he may not want to make that unspoken admission, he needs to consider what's best for his career. Fighters make the most money by competing in main events and in title fights.
Given his losses, Edgar probably won't be in a pay-per-view main event anytime soon, and it's hard to see how he could get another shot at either the featherweight or lightweight belts within the next year.
But a drop to bantamweight might do that for him.
Making the move easier is the realization that there is a perfect match awaiting him in the 135-pound class. Assuming Urijah Faber defeats Ivan Menjivar at UFC 157 on Feb. 23, an Edgar-Faber fight later this year would be a brilliant pairing.
Faber, like Edgar, has struggled to put wins together recently. The former World Extreme Cagefighting featherweight champion is just 3-3 in his last six matches, though he's had a Fight of the Night and two Submission of the Nights in that span.
Faber reigns as the biggest name in the lighter weight classes, which don't typically draw as many pay-per-view buys as fights involving the bigger classes.
But an Edgar-Faber contender's fight at 135 would be a very significant match between two big names, both of whom could use a major win.
A match like that would be a perfect headliner of Fox, or as a co-main on pay-per-view.
[More UFC 156: Joe Benavidez, Demian Maia deliver decision wins]
Faber and Edgar are roughly the same size, though until Saturday, they were competing two divisions apart. A match between them would be an outstanding one that would showcase all the elements that make MMA great: speed, power, technique, high-level striking, wrestling and submissions.
White has dubbed Edgar the Arturo Gatti of MMA, referencing the Hall of Fame boxer who was known for repeatedly being in amazing slugfests. Fans accepted Gatti even coming off losses because he was so exciting.
He'll be exciting no matter which division he fights, because he's so courageous and such a fierce competitor.
The key, though, is not just to be in exciting fights. It's to win them.
Edgar's best chance to end his losing streak and get back to the top of a division is to drop to bantamweight and make a run for the title there.
The charismatic Faber could be the perfect foil to welcome him.
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