Former UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar is in a very unique position this weekend at UFC 156.
Despite being just 1-2-1 in his last four fights, Edgar will compete for the UFC featherweight championship against Jose Aldo. This marks his first bout at the weight after dropping down from 155.
Edgar and Aldo were originally set to face each other late in 2012, as “The Answer” stepped in on short notice for an injured Erik Koch and agreed to meet Aldo. However, the bout was postponed due to “Scarface” going down with an injury of his own, and Edgar’s featherweight debut was placed on hold.
So, even though he is coming off a pair of defeats – albeit close decision losses – Edgar has an opportunity to rise right back to the top and wear a title belt once again. But, what if the New Jersey-native fails to defeat Aldo? Where does he go from there?
Well, I am glad you asked, because I’ve come up with a handful of roads Edgar could travel should he come up short vs. Aldo on Saturday:
1. Work his way back into title contention at featherweight
This is the most obvious path for Edgar if he comes up on the losing end in this title fight.
Edgar is one of the UFC’s new “golden fighters.” I feel as though, thanks to his willingness to always step in and fight when called up, and travel the world for the promotion, Edgar is viewed like a Chuck Liddell or Tito Ortiz. The UFC will always be home for Edgar, and even if he falls to 1-3-1 with three straight defeats, he isn’t going anywhere.
At 31 years old, Edgar would need to quickly get a strong foot-hold in the division, as it is packed-full of young, rising prospects. He likely wouldn’t fall too far down the rankings with a loss, but maybe he is placed in a group with the likes of Chad Mendes, Dustin Poirier and Erik Koch – just a level below Ricardo Lamas and Chan Sung Jung.
Edgar vs. Mendes would be an excellent fight for both men, as would seeing Edgar up against Poirier and Koch. Edgar can really help elevate several fighters in the division because of his marquee name.
2. Return to the UFC’s lightweight division
Edgar said the weight cut was easy for him to 145, but if he isn’t able to defeat Aldo, would he be happy waiting for the Brazilian to leave the division before earning another title shot?
Lightweight is home to many, many headline-fighters, while the featherweight division is still growing. Edgar could easily become the face of the 145ers after Aldo departs, but is that the right path for him at this point in his career? Doubtful.
A return to 155 would place him at the back of the line, but Edgar has shown an ability to quickly ascend the rankings before. Maybe a future fourth meeting with Gray Maynard is of interest, and I’m sure Edgar wants a third crack at Benson Henderson, as well.
3. Retire from fighting and become a coach
Edgar seems to be a perfect fighter to transition into the role of a coach. He has an excellent background in wrestling, and a great foundation in New Jersey to build from.
Is retirement even in the current plans for Edgar at this point? That’s highly-unlikely, but maybe he doesn’t want to continue to be punched in the face. Maybe he doesn’t have that same “fighting spirit” as before and would prefer to teach the next generation.
From my perspective, I sure hope retirement is still a few years off for “The Answer,” but you just never know what is going on in the mind of a cage fighter.
Photo credit: Esther Lin/MMA Fighting