After twice handing B.J. Penn (16-9-2) defeats in the UFC, many have pondered what Frankie Edgar (16-4-1) has to gain from fighting the former two-division champion a third time. In an interview with MMA Fight Corner, Edgar said the chance to seal the deal with a third victory is what’s motivating him.
When UFC International Fight Week takes Las Vegas by storm from July 1-6, The Ultimate Fighter season 19 Finale will cap off the week on Sunday, July 6, topped by a main event pitting this season’s coaches Frankie Edgar and B.J. Penn opposite one another.
Last week, Edgar was unable to attend the on-sale press conference at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. He and his wife are back home in New Jersey, anxiously anticipating the arrival of their third child.
During the press conference, an animated Penn told the media that Edgar was the reason he dropped down two weight classes and decided to make a comeback. Penn hasn’t competed since meeting Rory MacDonald at UFC on FOX 5 on Dec. 2012. That night Penn lost to MacDonald and subsequently contemplated retirement. Since Edgar twice defeated Penn in title matches, it fueled the fire for the Hawaiian to want a third meeting.
“He’s gunning for me, so that kind of gives me some motivation. You better believe I don’t want to lose a third time around,” Edgar emphatically stated. “I’m motivated to go in there, get the job done, and close this book for good.”
“I get it, he’s a competitive person,” Edgar added. “I guess those two wins are still haunting him. I got some guys that haunt me a little bit I guess. But, he feels this is a chance to get redemption. But like I said. No way I’m going to let that happen.”
Penn will make his featherweight debut against Edgar who has competed twice in the 145-pound division. His last four outings were contested at 170-pounds. While coaching the Ultimate Fighter’s 19th season, currently airing Wednesdays on FOX Sports 1, Edgar was not surprised to see that Penn was already working on his weight cut. As the former lightweight champion sees it, Penn could really flourish in his new weight class.
“Who knows? I think 45 could have been the weight class he could have been in his whole career. He’s just a big guy and a tough guy who’s willing to take on new challenges.”
In their first title fight at UFC 112 in Abu Dhabi, Edgar earned a unanimous decision over Penn and was crowned the new UFC Lightweight Champion. In an immediate rematch at UFC 118, Edgar successfully defended his belt again getting the nod in his favor. Still, Edgar views this fight as a completely new challenge, especially since their last matchup took place about 4 years ago.
“I’ve changed a whole lot. I’m sure he’s changed as much as possible,” said Edgar. “My thing is, I don’t really focus too much on my opponent. I just worry about my skills and trying to get them as sharp as possible. It’ll be a year to the day since I fought last time and I think I’ve made a lot of gains. I think I have a lot of room for growth and I want to show that.”
“The Answer” battled José Aldo for the title in his featherweight debut. He came on strong in the later rounds, but it wasn’t enough to take down the reigning kingpin. Next, Edgar got his hand raised against Charles Oliveira at UFC 162. Additionally, the scrap took home Fight of the Night honors. In his past 6 fights, Edgar has taken home 5 post-fight bonuses.
By time he steps into the Octagon with Penn, a year and one day will have passed since his last fight. While that’s the longest amount of time the 32-year old’s had between fights in his UFC career, he felt his body needed the break.
Coaching on TUF 19, gave him a nice reprieve from the wear-and-tear of his usual grind. As he worked opposite one of two men in the UFC to ever hold titles in 2 different weight classes, Frankie admitted he was glad to be a part of the promotion’s flagship reality series.
“It was cool. Doing the Ultimate Fighter show was kind of just the next step in my career. You look at the former coaches and they’re all either Hall of Famers or legends of the sport. I just figured it was my time to do the show. And now in retrospect, I’m really happy I did it. I have some great relationships with some really hard working kids. All in all, it was a great experience.”
The Ultimate Fighter’s 19th season is currently airing on FOX Sports 1. The climax of this season culminates in their 5-round main event, featherweight tilt at the TUF 19 Finale.
Tickets for THE ULTIMATE FIGHTER FINALE: EDGAR vs. PENN are available for purchase at www.ticketmaster.com. Ticket sales are limited to eight (8) per person. To charge by phone with a major credit card, call Ticketmaster at (800) 745-3000. Tickets also are available at the Mandalay Bay box office.
Great VIP packages are also available for International fight week! The UFC VIP Experience packages together your tickets with behind-the-scenes access to the official weigh-ins, backstage tours, meet and greet and autograph signings with top UFC stars! Check UFCFightWeek.com for details.
Check out the interview with Frankie “The Answer” Edgar here.