Frankie “The Answer” Edgar (14-2-1, MMA) is motivated beyond belief to get the UFC lightweight strap back this Saturday night at UFC 150. Edgar is rematching current UFC Lightweight Champ Benson Henderson (16-2, MMA) and is hoping that he can bring the belt back to New Jersey. The showdown kicks off at 10pm ET/7pm ET on August 11th, live from the Pepsi Center in Denver, CO.
If Gray Maynard could speak about this right now, he might even warn Benson that when Frankie makes a comeback, he’s a dangerous man. Today, Heidi Fang of MMA Fight Corner caught up with Frankie and talked about what’s driving him to get the belt back, how prepared he is for Benson Henderson and what could happen in the near future.
The last time Frankie fought in Colorado, it was in 2008 at UFC Fight Night 13. He suffered the first loss of his 17 fight career. It was the first time he’d met Gray Maynard. Maynard got the best of Edgar winning by unanimous decision in what would be the first of their wars. Some said high altitude could have been the reason Frankie lost that fight. But this time around, Frankie arrived in Denver with plenty of time to acclimate to the high altitude.
“I just wanted to make sure I crossed T’s and dotted I’s, just make sure I did everything to be prepared for this fight,” Edgar said. “Last time, it was maybe not feasible for me to get out here this early. This time I was able to bring my camp and training partners and everything, make sure I was able to finish my camp strong and be out here early enough.”
Though getting acclimated isn’t the only thing Frankie has to concern himself with if he wants a comeback win, the former UFC Lightweight Champ said he’s got the right people in place to make the most of his game against Henderson. To prepare for Benson’s Tae Kwon Do style that includes kicks from different levels and strikes from various angles, Frankie’s brought featherweight Dustin Poirier into this camp as a sparring partner. He’s also has working closely with a Muay Thai practitioner and trained with a local wrestler from Colorado Springs.
Despite getting as well rounded as possible to prepare for Benson, Frankie promised that he’s not straying away from his wrestling base that’s proved to be his strength over and over again. However, this time around he hopes to do more with his takedowns and wants to profit from any kicks of Benson’s he stops. “You can definitely expect me to be looking for takedowns. Catching kicks is something that I’ve done well too. I just think I need to capitalize on it a little better.”
There’s no doubt that when Frankie’s in a rematch, he comes back stronger than ever. We’ve seen him unleash fury in his rematches with BJ Penn and Maynard, and now he has a another shot at Benson for the title. Frankie credited Henderson for all of his strengths as a fighter, but said he and his camp have a plan that looks to stifle the current champ’s attacks.
“It wasn’t like he really surprised me too much. I knew how good of a fighter he is,” Edgar stated. “I know how hard he fights and I’m kind of expecting more of the same. There’s definitely some things that I think my team or I were able to see, some things that I didn’t do so well, or that he did really well that we could try to avoid, or that we could try to better on our end.”
On his side, he has some of the most respected MMA coaches in the game with striking coach Phil Nurse and he’s also worked with BJJ coach Renzo Gracie and Ricardo Almeida in his career. Frankie said if it wasn’t for them, he wouldn’t be able to exploit his opponents as well as he does. “For me it’s a credit a lot to my team. I think they’re really good at dissecting fights and making adjustments and I’m able to apply them. And also, just the fact that you’ve been in there with the guy and you get to see what he brings to the table, you gotta get confidence out of it. And, you know, be confident in yourself and know that once I was close, but you know you were close enough that you could be in there this next one you could open the door up a little bit.”
Even if Frankie’s only faced 3 opponents in the past two years, one thing that’s undeniable is the level of talent he’s gone up against is the among the toughest the UFC has to offer at lightweight. Between Penn, Maynard and Henderson, Frankie said it was hard to determine who his toughest opponent in the past couple years has been. “That’s tough to say. Obviously, I had some wars with Gray. This last fight with Ben was so close. And BJ’s just a legend. So, I think they’re tough in their own right in different ways, they possess different skills. It’d be tough to say who’s the toughest. If I’m gonna say anybody, Ben has the win over me, even though it was real close. So, I guess I’m gonna say Ben.”
Leading up to Saturday’s fight, UFC President Dana White has already said that he’s not allowing another rematch for the title. If Frankie is able to get past Benson in the upcoming rematch, next in line to fight for the title is Nate Diaz. Back in May, Diaz told MMA Fight Corner, if he had a choice, he’d want to avoid fighting Edgar.
With Diaz and Edgar both being trained by the Gracie family, Frankie hopes fighting Diaz is a bullet he can dodge if he beats Henderson. “I like Nate. I train with him. We are part of the whole Gracie system. We’re kinda teammates. I feel the same as him.” But Edgar added that he didn’t want to think that far ahead just yet, as he’s putting all his focus on Benson right now. “I guess we’ll cross that bridge when it comes,” he said.
As for what the future holds for Frankie, there’s one question he can never seem to avoid. Now, even Dana White is pushing the issue with Edgar about dropping to featherweight. Edgar didn’t rule out the idea, but again, didn’t want to think that far ahead just yet. ”I couldn’t make a decision now. It’d have to be after this fight. We’ll see what happens. It might even be a fight away from now. Who knows? We’ll see what the future holds.”
With Saturday just around the corner, one thing resounded in everything we spoke about – Frankie’s confidence that he’ll be the one with his hand raised once all is said and done against Benson. “I’m always pretty positive in my mind,” he said of going after the belt. “But, I just feel good about it. I’ve done everything in the last few months to make sure that I come out the winner. I just don’t think I’m going to be denied.”
Benson Henderson vs Frankie Edgar II will be UFC 150′s main event on Pay Per View on Saturday, August 11th. Main card starts at 10pm ET/7pm PT. Facebook will carry one fight, Nik Lentz vs Eiji Mitsuoka at 7:30pm ET/4:30pm PT and the preliminary card starts at 8pm ET/5pm PT on FX.