With UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar preparing to face the one and only fighter to ever beat him, Gray Maynard, next Saturday night at UFC 125 for the title, the champ stopped by The MMA Press Box at Sports Radio WNSR 560 this week to talk some MMA, share his thoughts on the upcoming bout and talk about what lies ahead if he gets past Maynard.
Edgar (13-1 MMA, 8-1 UFC) said he was trying to just approach the fight like any other fight and just another title defense, but also said he can not deny the fact that he is excited at the possibility of avenging his only loss.
For those curious about what will be different between this fight and their April 2008 bout at UFC Fight Night 13, for Edgar, a lot has changed.
To begin with, he started working with legendary Muay Thai coach Phil Nurse just prior to his first fight with B.J. Penn. Add to that the confidence that comes from dominating the man many considered the number one lightweight in the world, not once but twice.
Nurse, who was on MMA Press Box Radio last week, talked about the change he had seen in Edgar’s confidence and how important that is for a fighter’s success. Edgar confirmed the origin of this mental power, “The people that I have around me help me with my confidence and the people that I’ve faced and beaten help me with my confidence as well.”
In addition to the two wins over Penn, Edgar has also scored dominant victories over Sean Sherk, Hermes Franca and Matt Veach since his first fight with Maynard. Of course, Maynard will not be the same fighter as when they first met either. He has since beaten the likes of Kenny Florian, Nate Diaz, Roger Huerta, Jim Miller and Rich Clementi.
Not all of Maynard’s wins have been as dominant as Edgar’s, but wins nonetheless.
If Edgar is able to get past Maynard this time, his next opponent will be newly-crowned WEC lightweight champion Anthony “Showtime” Pettis, who was the talk of the sports world last week when he dropped Ben Henderson flat on his back with a cage-assisted roundhouse kick to the face in the final minutes of their WEC 53 title fight.
Pettis took the title from Henderson and has been granted first crack at the winner of Edgar vs. Maynard. Knowing very well he could face Pettis in 2011, Edgar commented on the absurdity of possibly having to train to defend against techniques like the “Showtime kick”.
“I don’t even know how you defend against that. That’s pretty amazing,” said Edgar.
If Edgar were to get past Maynard and Pettis, two extremely difficult tasks, he shared his thoughts on a potential match-up with current UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo.
“Knowing that I have Gray Maynard in a week and the winner of that fight gets Anthony Pettis, it’s hard to look past that, but challenges like those two guys and Jose Aldo definitely excite me as a competitor and a fighter that is always pushing the boundaries,” said Edgar.
And those are the sort of statements you love to hear from champions; someone who is willing to fight the very best. It is also the type of fights Edgar will need to take and win if he is to break into the upper realms of the pound-for-pound rankings and one day move into that ethereal MMA category known as “legend”.
That is the type of path that would be needed. It is these types of talks that need to happen.
Just supposing for a moment Edgar defeated Maynard, then Pettis and then Aldo. What would be left?
At that point you do what legends do… Of course, you fight a boxer.
Maybe someone like…. Manny Pacquiao.
Edgar, who is known for having great boxing, most especially for an MMA fighter, shared his honest thoughts on a hypothetical situation, if he were presented with the opportunity to fight boxing great Manny Pacquiao.
“If I can get the takedown and stuff I think I’ll be alright, but boxing-wise I might be in for a long night, or a short night,” admitted Edgar. “I would do it just to say I did it, but he’s the man.”
Those types of scenarios are fun to think about, but Edgar’s non-hypothetical true test will come on New Year’s Day in the form of a 5-foot 8-inch 156-pound “Bully” with exceptional wrestling.
To hear Frankie Edgar talk about all this and more, check out his complete interview with MMA Press Box Radio. MMA Press Box Radio airs LIVE each Wednesday at 2 p.m. CT locally in the Nashville/Middle Tennessee area on Sports Radio 560 WNSR or worldwide LIVE online at www.wnsr.com at the same time. ProMMAnow.com is the proud home of all the MMA Press Box Radio archives which are posted each Wednesday evening following the live broadcast.