Frankie Edgar officially declared his intention to move to 135lbs after suffering defeat over five rounds at the hands of Max Holloway at UFC 240.
Though by no means a devastating loss, Edgar now finds himself effectively frozen out of the featherweight title picture and while his greatest moments inside the octagon were to be found at 155lbs, the idea of him dropping down to 135lbs is now one that is set in stone.
With that in mind, here are five reasons why a move to bantamweight is the correct decision for The Answer.
He will likely never break back into the featherweight title-picture
Losses to Holloway, José Aldo, and a brutal stoppage defeat at the hands of Brian Ortega places Frankie right on the edge of the top-5 of the division – even if the rankings don’t see him fall back that far.
Though by no means through at 145lbs, one would have to assume that Edgar will need two or even three wins to earn another shot at the gold – depending on how the UFC match him up.
With the likes of Ortega, Alexander Volkanovski, Yair Rodriguez and his teammate Zabit Magomedsharipov more likely to get a push, Edgar will likely assume the role of gatekeeper unless he inserts himself into a fresh division.
Size is becoming an issue
Holloway towered over the comparatively tiny Edgar at UFC 240, peppering his face with the jab relentless over the five rounds – so much so that Frankie’s energy was being spent on closing the distance rather than engaging in a shot-for-shot battle.
At UFC 222, when Edgar succumbed to his first career defeat by finish at the hands of Brian Ortega, it really did look as though the pair were separated by two weight-divisions and once Ortega was able to realise that Frankie would not threaten him with any significant power, he was able to walk him down before brutally getting him out of there in the first-round.
It makes his run as a lightweight that bit more impressive but in the modern game, size matters – and as the newer breed are growing more technical, figuring out a guy like Edgar is growing easier by the year.
Time is not on his side
At 37, the speed that has allowed Edgar to close the distance on the bigger fighters over the course of his career will now start to fade and if he continues to fight at featherweight – expect his contests to become that bit less competitive as The Answer struggles to impose his relatively short reach and impact his foe with his patented entry into the takedown.
He certainly has enough time to mount another run at the belt and in a fight against perhaps the greatest 145lb fighter of all time, in Max Holloway, he made it about as competitive as he could have.
With that being said, understanding that a change is necessary needs to happen now before his decline begins to truly take hold.
His route to the championship belt will be easier at 135lbs
Although his teammate Marlon Moraes was dispatched in impressive fashion by divisional champion Henry Cejudo at UFC 238, do not be surprised if Frankie can skip the bantamweight queue with a solid win in his debut in the weight-class.
Cejudo already called out the former lightweight king upon defeating Moraes and with the competition for the title-shot coming in the form of relatively unknown commodities (in the eyes of mainstream fans) such as Petr Yan, Aljamain Sterling, and Pedro Muhnoz – it’s hard to imagine the UFC saying no to one of their most unanimously-loved fighters if can find his feet early at 135lbs.
Compared to the route towards another shot at Max Holloway, it’s easy to see how enough excitement could be generated from seeing Frankie at bantamweight to allow him to sneak his name into title-contention without much issue.
His team are urging him to do it
Edgar’s long-time coach Ricardo Almeida spoke to MMAFighting about his own wish for his fighter and how for once, he would like to see how Frankie fights when his main priority isn’t closing the distance and making up for his size deficit.
Citing contrasting sparring sessions he has witnessed in the past between Edgar and the similarly-sized Moraes and then Edgar and the massive Zabit Magomedsharipov, Almeida explained why bantamweight could suit The Answer.
“We’ve been talking about this for a while, telling him to move down to 135 pounds, but he never really wanted it, he was never really interested. What Frankie wants is to be the best in the world. Frankie wants to win this second belt. And if he sees a path to get to that belt in that weight class, I’m sure he would really consider it. And I think he’d probably have that path.
“We have to high-level guys we can analyze. You can see the difference in Frankie’s ability when he can use his reach. Against Zabit, he has to keep moving forward the entire time to close the distance. Against Marlon, it’s back and forth with them throwing combinations.
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena