When discussing who the greatest mixed martial arts fighter of all time is, the names that are usually brought to the table are Anderson Silva, Georges St Pierre, Jon Jones, Fedor Emelianenko, and more recently, Demetrious Johnson. One particular name that isn’t ever really mentioned is in his twelfth year in MMA competition and is a former lightweight champion currently eyeing a chance at winning the UFC featherweight title. That man is the 35-year-old “Answer” Frankie Edgar.
No, Edgar is not considered a knock out artist like Fedor, he’s not as precise as Silva, or as dominant as GSP, Jones, or Johnson, but he does possess the tenacity and relentlessness necessary in winning a street fight as well as the technique to be in full control in competition. Edgar’s arrival to the MMA like many, commenced on the wrestling mat at the tender age of five. Following his tenure at Clarion University of Pennsylvania, Edgar embarked on a career of cage fighting under the tutelage of Ricardo Almeida and the Gracie team in New Jersey.
A victory over Jim Miller in 2006 under the Reality Fighting promotion got him the call from the UFC and that’s where we’ve been able to see him collect names like BJ Penn, Tyson Griffin, Gray Maynard, Sean Sherk, Cub Swanson, Uriah Faber, Chad Mendes, Jeremy Stephens (Who?) and most recently Yair Rodriguez.
While Edgar is not undefeated like Jones, his losses were against Jose Aldo, Benson Henderson, which could’ve went either way, and Gray Maynard, which he avenged via KO after a draw in their second affair. Edgar, like “Mighty Mouse” had no option, but to fight in a division against much larger opponents because his weight class was initially non-existent. Up until 2013, Edgar was swimming with sharks and one could argue that he’d still be able to claw his way up to the top five of the lightweight division should he decide to move up in weight. One could also argue that Edgar is a bit undersized for featherweight and could make a push for the bantamweight division where he could possibly dethrone the current champion, Cody “No Love” Garbrandt. There aren’t a lot guys with the option and the almost guarantee of being considered a three weight UFC champion. Especially when the divisions include two of the most competitive to date.
“The Answer’s” plate is currently full with hopes of another title shot at the featherweight title, this time against the newly crowned, Max “Blessed” Holloway. Edgar has a tall task ahead of him, but he certainly has the tools to relive his days as a UFC champion. Despite his age, Edgar has shown that he is still going strong and not leaving anytime soon. He illustrated that crystal clearly against the up-and-coming Yair Rodriguez last month at UFC 211.
Edgar’s fighting style can be described as boxing mixed with wrestling and if he gets a hold of you, there’s a chance you’ll get beaten up for as long as he wants to or perhaps secure the submission. In 12 years of fighting Edgar has the distinction of never being stopped by strikes or submission. Even in defeat by way of the scorecards, Edgar has displayed a lack of quit in him. His draw against Gray Maynard back in 2011 at UFC 125 is proof of this notion in one of the most brutal first round beatdowns anyone’s ever received.
Edgar’s lack of one punch knockout power has been detrimental in the greatest of all time discussion, but for every one of Fedor’s knockout wins there’s the TKO losses he’s suffered, for every Anderson Silva highlight reel there’s the asterisk alongside his name following his failed drug test after his win over Nick Diaz at UFC 183. Jon Jones is enduring the same question mark on his legacy after his failed drug test last year. Johnson may set a new record for title defenses, but he’ll do it in one of the most shallow divisions available. GSP has the edge over Edgar in these discussions, but he never fought in a division above his weight class, but then again the jump from 145 to 155 lbs does not equate the leap from 170 to 185 lbs.
Edgar is clearly in the latter portion of his career and even then he remains a championship caliber fighter and should be recognized as such. The answer to the question of who the greatest MMA fighter is might never be Edgar, but it should certainly be considered.