LAS VEGAS — Frankie Edgar proved Saturday that he ain’t done yet.
Fighting in the proper weight class for the first time against a man his own size in who knows how long — maybe junior high — the former lightweight champion made his bantamweight debut in style.
He survived a brutal battle with Pedro Munhoz, winning a split decision in his bantamweight debut. Judges had it 48-47 twice for Edgar and 49-46 for Munhoz. Yahoo Sports scored it 48-47 for Munhoz.
Win or lose, though, the bout proved that rumors of Edgar’s demise as an elite mixed martial artist had been greatly exaggerated. He engaged in a back-and-forth battle with the No. 5-ranked bantamweight, using his movement and boxing skills to eke out the victory.
Munhoz was chopping at Edgar’s lead leg consistently and by the middle of the fight, it was clear it was compromised. But true to his history, Edgar didn’t let it bother him and kept working.
He scored a few takedowns, though he never did anything with them. But they were critical in making certain Munhoz had to concern himself with something other than just the striking.
Munhoz, who was coming off a June 2019 loss to Aljamain Sterling, fought equally bravely and as well. Not only was he scoring regularly with the leg kicks, he was also connecting with his hands in the standup. Edgar’s nose and mouth were bloodied by the middle of the third round and his face began to noticeably swell in the fifth.
Throughout his career, Edgar’s fought bigger guys for no other reason than he simply could. But after losses to Max Holloway and Chan Sung Jung in his last two fights, it was obvious Edgar needed to make a move.
The featherweight division is one of the UFC’s best and he was giving away too much size and strength there. This, after dropping down from lightweight, where he’d won the title in 2010 and held it for nearly two years.
He’s one of the most popular fighters in the sport’s history because of his willingness to take on anyone, but he showed Saturday that in the proper weight class, he can still be a contender and, who knows, even a champion.
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