Despite once winning a UFC title at 155 pounds, many have long felt that Frankie Edgar was best suited to compete at bantamweight. After coming up short in his third attempt to secure a title at 145 pounds last month, “The Answer” has officially confirmed that he will indeed be dropping down in weight.
Although he currently sits at 37 years of age and is undoubtedly nearing the tail end of his career, Edgar appears as if he’s still capable of competing at a high level. Because of that, along with his name value, he’ll immediately provide a new and exciting aspect to an already flourishing bantamweight division.
Upon his announcement, bantamweight contenders have already begun calling out Edgar. There’ll be no shortage of opponents waiting for him when he makes his divisional debut later this year. Let’s take a look at a few options that could make sense for Edgar’s first fight at 135 pounds.
Fights for Frankie Edgar at 135
Like Edgar, Dominick Cruz is one of the most notable fighters to have competed in the lighter weight classes over the years. In fact, some still consider “The Dominator” to be the best bantamweight of all time.
Unfortunately, Cruz’s career has been plagued by injuries. Due to a variety of injuries, Cruz hasn’t competed since 2016 and has only competed three times since September of 2014.
Regardless, he remains only 33 years old, owns a 22-2 career record, and still sits at No. 6 in the UFC’s official rankings. His timeline for a return is a bit unclear at the moment though. But should he be able to compete again towards the end of the year, he may be the perfect opponent for Edgar.
Stylistically, Edgar vs. Cruz would be incredibly intriguing and the fight would provide the promotion with a relatively big fight that would move the winner into the thick of things at 135 pounds.
If a return for Cruz isn’t on tap for the near future, a bout between Edgar and Brazilian contender Pedro Munhoz could work as well.
Between 2018-19, the 32-year-old put together a three-fight winning streak that included victories over Brett Johns, Bryan Caraway and former champion Cody Garbrandt. His stoppage win over Garbrandt at UFC 235 last March earned him a bout against top contender Aljamain Sterling. A win over Sterling likely would’ve made him next in line for a title shot.
Nonetheless, Munhoz represents a tough out for any fighter at bantamweight. With an 18-4-1 career record, Munhoz possesses power in his hands to go along with a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, making him quite a well-rounded fighter.
A bout between him and Edgar could make sense for both men in order to see where they fit into things in the division.
After beating Cruz to become the 135-pound champion in 2016, Garbrandt appeared to be the UFC’s next big thing.
Unfortunately, the Team Alpha Male product has fallen on rough times as of late. He’s lost three consecutive fights to TJ Dillashaw and Munhoz, with each of those losses coming via T/KO.
Despite dealing with injuries of his own as of late, he remains only 28-years-old and presumably has a lot of fight left in him. His return his unclear at the moment, but if he’s preparing to once again fight, he could also be an option for Edgar.
While The Answer is looking to establish himself in a new division, “No Love” is looking to re-establish himself in a division he was on top of not too long ago. Stylistically, Garbrandt comes from a wrestling background but has become known for his punching power. His striking defense, however, has seemed to be his Achilles heel.
Regardless, he remains one of the division’s biggest names. Similar to a fight against Cruz, a bout between Frankie Edgar and Garbrandt could appeal to the UFC. It could headline a Fight Night card or serve as an intriguing fight for a pay-per-view card.
Raphael Assuncao/Cory Sandhagen
At next weekend’s UFC 241 card, a bantamweight tilt between Raphael Assuncao and Cory Sandhagen is set to take place.
The 37-year-old Assuncao has long been a top contender at 135 pounds. But, he’s never seemed to have been able to get over the hump and earn a title shot. He currently sits at No. 3 in the division and has won four of his last five bouts.
Sandhagen, meanwhile, is looking for a marquee win against Assuncao. The 27-year-old has won six-straight fights, with five of those victories coming by way of finish.
Currently, the bantamweight division is a bit crowded. In addition, champion Henry Cejudo’s future is a bit unclear. Because of that, the winner of this bout isn’t likely to receive the next title shot. However, the winner may be a smart option to welcome Edgar to the division.
For Assuncao or Sandhagen, a win over Frankie Edgar would do wonders for hopes of a title shot. For Edgar, a win over either man would establish himself as a legitimate player at 135 pounds.
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