At UFC 98 Frankie Edgar out boxed former lightweight champion Sean Sherk to a unanimous decision victory. Now the question facing UFC matchmaker Joe Silva, and many UFC fans, is whether Frankie Edgar is a legit title contender.
There is no question that the current favorite for the number one contender position—after Kenny Florian fights current champion B.J. Penn at UFC 101—will fall to Diego Sanchez if he defeats Clay Guida at The Ultimate Fighter 9 Finale.
However, the question remains, who will take on the number one contender mantle after the finale or if Sanchez fails to get past Clay Guida?
With Edgar’s impressive win over Sherk he is now on the short list for possible lightweight contenders. Edgar is 10-1, 5-1 in the UFC, with victories over former champ Sean Sherk, a top prospect in Tyson Griffin, former number one contender Hermes Franca and the always-solid Spencer Fisher. The only blemish is a decision loss to Gray Maynard.
Edgar’s position may be held back due to the manner in which he lost to Gray Maynard. The former TUF 5 standout dominated Edgar with his superior wrestling, size and strength. It was these facts that lead many, including myself, to believe that Sherk would defeat Edgar.
The Maynard fight also started whispers that Edgar was too small for the UFC’s lightweight division and that perhaps he would drop to 145lbs. to fight in the WEC’s featherweight division. Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan advanced this storyline in the early stages of UFC 98. With Edgar’s current resume this seems slightly absurd in retrospect.
Edgar’s chief rival for heir-apparent may be the man he lost to, Gray Maynard. Maynard (7-0) last fought at UFC 96 in Columbus where he defeated Jim Miller. There has been no announcement for a possible opponent for the unbeaten Maynard.
If Sanchez cannot get through Clay Guida then one of these two fighters will most likely find themselves in the role of number one contender. Due to Edgar’s higher profile victory over Sean Sherk it would be safe to assume that he would be the front-runner if Sanchez were to lose.
The way the current UFC fight calendar is laid it out there is a high probability that both fighters will face another opponent later this year. Thankfully, this will clear up the lightweight picture and perhaps Frankie Edgar will find himself with a title shot.
Zak Woods is the founder of the mixed martial arts blog WatchKalibRun.com.