Can it be? Frankie Edgar to featherweight?
This was a long time coming, of course, and though the move isn't 100 percent complete, Edgar and his camp have noticeably transitioned from "lightweight or bust" to "yeah, sure, 145 ... hey, maybe 135, too."
For the time being, let's leave the man be when it comes to bantamweight. He dealt with question after question about his featherweight prospects, all the while doing a pretty bang-up job at lightweight. Subjecting him to similar treatment about 135 would be cruel and unusual. But as far as 145 goes, time to pepper away. Shedding 10 pounds shouldn't be a problem. You have to figure he'll retain speed, maybe even turn out to be a bit quicker, and his power should translate well.
Don’t get the wrong idea about this decision if it comes to fruition. Edgar's move is no retreat. This is not the pending move of a man who couldn't hack it, of a fighter desperate to find his way so he’ll cut off an arm and a leg to get there. Edgar has proven that at 155 pounds he's as good as anyone, possibly better, all the while fighting (and mostly beating) serious competition at his walk-around weight.
Featherweight, meanwhile, offers many intriguing options. After residing in rematch land since 2010, the chance to see Edgar in a division most presume will suit him perfectly against a growing contingent of quality competitors should get you excited. Seriously, excited.
Jose Aldo is most certainly at the top of the list, as the young, great Brazilian champion should be.
Aldo-Edgar stands up as a dream fight, one that helps both men and gives fans what they want. Though it wouldn't officially occur as “champion versus champion,” unofficially it is that and more. The matchup, as I see it, is easily one of the most interesting to make in MMA.
Aldo must negotiate past young American Erik Koch first. If he does (with apologies to Chan Sung Jung, Chad Mendes, Dennis Siver and the rest) the next challenger must be Edgar. The Answer’s work at 155 dictates that, and it's the right thing to do considering the way decisions went against him, including his recent contest versus Benson Henderson.
Edgar possesses the experience, athleticism, determination and smarts to bring out the best in Aldo. Think about that for a second. The best in Jose Aldo. For all his brilliance in the cage during WEC and UFC title reigns, Aldo hasn’t been pushed to the limit yet. He went the distance with Canadian Mark Hominick, but that was more a result of Aldo having an off night and a tough weight cut than what Hominick did in Toronto.
Perhaps the current UFC 145-pound champion is that good. Maybe no one can match him. But if there’s a guy to do it, you have to think his initials represent iron on the periodic table of elements.
While it was wonderful watching Edgar fight at lightweight, and though he put on some of the best performances we've seen in the Octagon, he did so out of his weight class. The champ from Toms River, N.J., did much more than hang with bigger fighters at 155. He overcame them. Survived them. Put them in their place. He’ll be predicated to dominate now, which is another interesting angle to this scenario. Edgar was always the little guy, the underdog. Now he’s playing in a different pool, evoking a whole new set of expectations.
Welcome to featherweight.