Should Frankie Edgar drop down a weight class?
We hear this question after every one of Edgar's fights, whether he wins or—as is the case after UFC 150 last weekend—loses.
The arguments for the drop are always the same: Edgar is one of the few UFC fighters who does not cut weight and thus is always at a size disadvantage against opponents who regularly cut 20 lbs or more to make the 155-pound limit. Given his success despite that size disparity, imagine what Edgar could do against someone his own size, or even—and this is crazy—has a size advantage.
But after Edgar's boxing coach, Mark Henry, told the SiriusXM Fight Club radio show (via MMAFighting.com) that he would like to see Edgar drop two weight classes to bantamweight, I realized that no single person has given the most compelling reason for Edgar to make the reduction they are calling for.
Frankie Edgar has an opportunity to claim a position as one of the greatest fighters in the history of the UFC.
Only two fighters—Hall of Famer Randy Couture and future Hall of Famer BJ Penn—have ever held UFC titles in two separate weight classes. Both masqueraded in divisions they probably didn't and don't belong in: Couture was fighting heavyweights with 40-plus pounds on him, and Penn is a soft, pudgy welterweight whose natural abilities have allowed him to survive there.
Edgar has already earned the title in his "unnatural" weight class, and could now surpass both of these legends by doing something that they—or anyone else for that matter—have never done.
Consider the current state of the featherweight and bantamweight divisions. Neither is exactly deep or brimming with big-name challengers for their champions. Should Edgar drop to either, he would be, at most, one fight away from a title shot. He has the speed, wrestling ability and cardio to outwork and grind down Jose Aldo Jr, and he's one of the only fighters in the UFC who can match Dominick Cruz's footwork.
So assume Edgar drops to featherweight, wins the belt and defends it, then drops to bantamweight and claims that title by 2014 as well. In a period of four years, Edgar could would have won and defended a title in three weight classes. That may happen in boxing, but in MMA it is unprecedented.
It's time Edgar makes the cut and sets his sights on new horizons, but not because he couldn't hang with the big boys. Edgar has an opportunity to make history, to be remembered as one of the greatest of all time. Those opportunities do not come very often, and when they do, they need to be seized.