As Frankie Edgar attended UFC 159 this past weekend in his home state, the New Jersey native was reminded how much a fighter’s marketability factors into matchmaking.
Chael Sonnen, who on paper had a weak case for a shot at UFC light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones‘ title, nonetheless got the pay-per-view headliner, and by all early indications, he helped make it a financially successful event.
Edgar admits he’ll never by the trash-talker Sonnen is. However, the former lightweight champion, who’s currently stuck in a three-fight losing streak following a drop in weight class and a failed bid at featherweight champ Jose Aldo‘s belt, believes one more win could get him another shot.
“Let’s be real about the way this goes,” he told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) on the night of UFC 159. “It’s not always the No. 1 contender that gets the title shots. Look at tonight. It’s who they invest money in and who’s a known name. In the lighter weights, just being that I’ve fought seven title fights in a row, I think I’m that guy. So I think it makes sense for them, and it obviously makes sense for me.”
That’s why he believes he’s just a win or two away from another fight with Aldo, or with Antony Pettis, who meets the champ in August at UFC 163. One pay-per-view event earlier, Edgar (15-4-1 MMA, 9-4-1 UFC) meets fellow featherweight Charles Oliveira (16-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC) at UFC 162.
“I’m going to go out there and fight to the best of my ability, and I hope it’s enough to get the attention toward my way,” he said.
Edgar is a bit of a riddle. He’s lost three straight and is 1-3-1 in his past five fights. But even the losses – two to Benson Henderson and one to Aldo – were close, and Edgar easily could have won any or all. A victory over Oliveira likely will shoot him up the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie.com MMA featherweight rankings, where he’s an honorable mention simply due to the lack of a win in the division.
For the first time in three years and six fights, he won’t headline a show when he fights at UFC 162. Edgar knows title losses are largely forgivable, especially when they’re so close, but he also knows a defeat to Oliveira could be a substantial setback for his title hopes.
So is it refreshing not to be the center of attention and to have a little pressure taken off him?
“It kind of is, but what are we doing this for?” he said. “I want to do this to be the best and carry cards and be a headline guy. You don’t want to get comfortable saying, ‘It’s kind of nice to not having all the attention.’ That’s what pays the bills.”
So in his current training camp, he’s working diligently on one obvious hole in his game: slow starts. For the first time in seven fights, Edgar won’t fight more than three rounds. That makes a quick start and winning rounds decisively even more important.
“I’m always trying to improve in all areas, and that’s definitely something that being in these close fights brings to my attention,” he said. “I’ve got to either do something to make this gap wider, where there’s no doubt, or finish fights. So I’m definitely working on it in the gym.”
For the latest on UFC 162, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.