UFC 222: Where does Frankie Edgar land in the list of all-time UFC greats?

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Frankie Edgar races to the Octagon with The Infamous B.I.G. bumping by means of the area. Whereas “Kick in the Door” has develop into his signature entrance monitor, there’s half a lyric from a unique hip hop artist that springs to thoughts once I’m pondering the profession of the Toms River, N.J. native.

“I ask when you talkin’ about classics, do my identify get introduced up?” requested Kanye West on “Diamonds From Sierra Leone,” a Grammy Award-profitable single off his second album, Late Registration.

Though Edgar would by no means ask the query himself, it’s value contemplating as the 36-yr-previous former champion and perennial contender readies to step into the Octagon towards Brian Ortega on Saturday night time in the co-principal occasion of UFC 222.

Whenever you’re making a list of the prime fighters in UFC historical past, the place does Edgar fall? Although he’s in all probability not the first identify that involves thoughts for anybody and people preliminary spots are reserved for the likes of Jon Jones, Georges St-Pierre and Anderson Silva, “The Reply” needs to be included in the subsequent assortment of expertise one tier behind the all-time greats.

Over his eleven-yr run in the UFC, Edgar has amassed a sixteen-5-1 report in the Octagon that features a light-weight title win and two profitable title defenses, in addition to retaining the belt in his draw with Grey Maynard. He’s taken half in 4 further championship bouts and has solely misplaced to 2 individuals in virtually a decade: Benson Henderson and Jose Aldo.

Each of these males bested Edgar twice: Henderson to say and retain the light-weight belt and Aldo in a pair of featherweight title fights three years aside after the undersized light-weight relocated to the one hundred forty five-pound ranks. In case you needed to argue that Edgar ought to have gotten the nod on the scorecards in his second bout with Henderson at UFC one hundred forty four — a victory that may have made him light-weight champion for a second time — you gained’t discover many which are going to inform you you’re loopy.

When he hits the cage on Saturday at UFC 222, it should have been 9 years, eleven months and at some point (give or take a pair leap years) since he final misplaced a non-title bout and it’s not like he’s been preventing scrubs throughout that stretch. Along with this light-weight title wins over B.J. Penn and Maynard, the two-division standout has additionally bested Hermes Franca and Sean Sherk at light-weight and Charles Oliveira, Cub Swanson, Urijah Faber, Chad Mendes, Jeremy Stephens and Yair Rodriguez at featherweight.

Whereas Aldo definitely needs to be forward of him in the position name of greats to compete in the Octagon and flyweight champ Demetrious Johnson ought to in all probability be listed forward of him as properly, you would argue that Edgar ought to be in the group thought-about for the subsequent opening alongside the likes of Daniel Cormier, Matt Hughes and Randy Couture.

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Like “DC,” he loved super success preventing in a better weight class earlier than dropping down and beating everybody besides the prime expertise to ever grace the division. The distinction being that Edgar claimed gold preventing above his present weight class, whereas Cormier’s twin title reigns have come solely after Jones was stripped of the mild heavyweight title and compelled to the sidelines.

Couture holds a quantity of UFC data and was the first individual to say gold in two totally different divisions, nevertheless it looks like his profession is made up of a collection of moments and particular person achievements and never a grand assortment of nice performances. There’s something unimaginable about “The Pure” attaining all the things he did after debuting in the sport as a 34-yr-previous, however it additionally meant that he by no means had the sort of 10-yr run of being amongst the very best that Edgar has loved.

Hughes is a considerably missed legend as a result of the man that changed him atop the welterweight division went on to have one of the biggest careers ever, however individuals overlook that heading into his second assembly with GSP, Hughes was forty one-four general, having already crushed St-Pierre, Penn, Frank Trigg (twice), Sean Sherk, Carlos Newton (twice) and lots of others. What hurts Hughes’ standing in the pantheon of all-time greats is that he was by no means actually a contender once more following his first loss to St-Pierre.

That’s the half that makes what Edgar has completed so unimaginable. Whereas Father Time ultimately catches up with everybody, the chief of the Iron Military hasn’t proven any actual indicators of slowing down as of but.

In his final two appearances, Edgar utterly outworked Jeremy Stephens, who has appeared excellent over his final three outings, and did so with a nasty again and a bum knee earlier than following it up by derailing the Yair Rodriguez hype practice, reminding everybody that “there are ranges to this,” as he stated after the bout.

There have been no backwards steps, no sudden losses or sluggish performances that made you assume his slide from rivalry was beginning. When issues have been just a little nearer than most anticipated towards Stephens at UFC 205, it created a second of pause, however then news of his accidents got here out and he ran by way of Rodriguez and immediately any of these questions on whether or not he was beginning to decline have been erased.

Which is what makes Saturday’s pairing with Ortega such a compelling battle.

Like Rodriguez, the 27-yr-previous Californian has shortly risen via the featherweight ranks to reach in a showdown with one of the division’s very best. In contrast to Rodriguez, nevertheless, Ortega has reached this level by knocking off an more and more extra completed and gifted assortment of fighters.

Over his final 5 outings, “T-Metropolis” has posted stoppage wins over Thiago Tavares, Diego Brandao, Clay Guida, Renato Moicano and Cub Swanson, and his arrival reverse Edgar looks like it’s coming at the proper time; prefer it has been earned, quite than pressured.

He’s a particularly harmful younger fighter: a confirmed finisher that’s comfortable to slug it out and cozy off his again, which makes every of his fights a “decide your poison” proposition for his opponents.

However individuals thought Rodriguez would current comparable issues for Edgar and the veteran ran by means of the upstart with minimal resistance.

Whereas Ortega has crushed greater caliber opponents and confirmed he’s a prime-5 expertise in the division, is he able to take the subsequent step? Extra importantly, has Edgar reached that time the place he turns into the veteran that cedes his place in the pecking order to the younger upstart?

On this sport, it will definitely occurs to everybody, even guys who’re amongst the biggest fighters in UFC historical past like Edgar.