Frankie Edgar still ‘trying to show these young dudes what’s up’ en route to another UFC title shot

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LAS VEGAS – Frankie Edgar is a surefire UFC Hall of Famer and universally recognized as a true legend of MMA, but as he nears his 40th birthday, “The Answer” isn’t ready to start thinking about the end just yet.

“No end date on it,” Edgar told MMA Junkie. “I’ll live fight to fight and let my body dictate it. I don’t want to think about the end quite yet.”

At this weekend’s UFC Fight Night 184, which streams live on ESPN+ from the UFC Apex, Edgar (24-8-1 MMA, 18-8-1 UFC) faces a fighter 11 years his junior in Cory Sandhagen (13-2 MMA, 6-1 UFC). The fight comes nearly 14 years to the day after Edgar made his promotional debut, but he said he still gets excited every time he’s given a new assignment.

“You still get a little of the butterflies in the stomach,” Edgar said. “You start thinking about the opponent and how it’s going to go. But I mean, it doesn’t last long. It used to last a little too long back in the day. Now you get over it and get to business right away.”

The business at hand this week is big. With Edgar currently sitting at No. 4 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMA Junkie bantamweight rankings and Sanhagen at No. 3, it seems the winner could easily be in line to face the champion that emerges from next month’s Petr Yan vs. Aljamain Sterling fight at UFC 259.

“I think it makes sense,” Edgar said. “A win here, and he’s pretty much the only guy ahead of me other than Aljo, and Aljo is fighting for the title, so a win here would catapult me, I think, for the title shot.”

Of course, Sandhagen isn’t going to prove an easy out. While Edgar was in the UFC eight years before Sandhagen even made his professional debut, the former UFC lightweight champ said you simply can’t take anything for granted.

“I won’t say, ‘I’ve seen it all, done it all,'” Edgar said. “This sport changes so quickly. Guys are always different. Nobody is ever the same in this sport. There’s not too many things I haven’t seen, but I let my coaches figure all that stuff out, and they tell me what I need to work on.”

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Frankie Edgar: I have to finish Cory Sandhagen if I want UFC title shot

Edgar’s team has had two shots at developing that game plan. The two were initially scheduled to meet in January 2020, but Edgar was pulled in favor of a pairing with Chan Sung Jung in South Korea. But Edgar said he believes it’s important that intel used is as fresh as possible.

“We had a little bit of knowledge of him because we were supposed to fight about a year ago,” Edgar said. “It’s always good to have a little outlook on what type of guy he is, but a year passes in this sport, that could be forever, so we had to reestablish our game plans and go after it again.”

So now Edgar must go out and face a man 11 years younger, a fast-rising contender who believes his destiny is to be champion. For Edgar, it would seem easy to lack a bit of motivation in spots like this. After all, while Sandhagen is all the rage of late, Edgar has faced the likes of former champions Jose Aldo, Benson Henderson, Max Holloway, B.J. Penn, and Sean Sherk, not to mention an endless list of notables such as Urijah Faber, Gray Maynard, Chad Mendes, Jim Miller, Brian Ortega, Charles Oliveira, Yair Rodriguez, and Cub Swanson, to name just a few.

But Edgar insists he’s just as driven for this matchup.

“Cory could very well be the next guy that’s coming up,” Edgar said. “He’s just fresh. Who knows how he’s going to be five, six years from now? I go in there and take care of business, and he grows afterwards and ends up being champion, that will still look good on my résumé.”

Edgar turns 40 in October, and he’s the UFC’s all-time leader in octagon time, with more than 7 hours and 40 minutes of experience competing at the sport’s highest level. It’s an incredible stat that stands as testament to his resiliency, but Edgar said he plans on adding significantly to that total.

Sure, UFC Fight Night 184 headliner Alistair Overeem, 40, may be happy to talk about his “one final run,” But Edgar isn’t ready to join him in that declaration.

“It’s kind of good to have someone older than me on the card,” Edgar joked. “I’ll let him take the cake this weekend.

“I think age is all how you feel, and I feel good. I’m still getting after it and trying to show these young dudes what’s up.”

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