Frankie Edgar isn't fighting this weekend, but his epic performance against Gray Maynard at UFC 136 is still felt among fans. In fact, his shadow will loom considerably as viewers get a look at future contenders in the Ben Henderson vs. Clay Guida fight. Recent reports indicate Edgar may be fighting the winner on the February card in Japan, according to MMAJunkie.
To get a crack at the title, however, the winner will have to look impressive. Just yesterday, I had the chance to speak to Frankie about training, a quick recap of UFC 136, the UFC on FOX, the Manny Pacquiao fight, and other peripheral topics. A major thanks to Frankie's boxing coach, Mark Henry (who I interviewed last month), for helping me set this up. And a thanks to Edgar as well: with the UFC now on FOX, first time viewers would do well learn about just who he is, and why he is so adored by the MMA community.
David: Hey Frankie. I'd like to start out by asking how life away from the cage is, and if there is such a thing for you right now?
Frankie Edgar: I'm a family guy and I have kids, so that's pretty much it. I'm either training or I'm with my wife. I don't like being away from my family for that long, but I set my schedule up so that training becomes a normal job like anyone else does.
David: Can you take us back to the fight with Gray Maynard? From a technical standpoint, is the victory bittersweet? As in, you won, but once again had to bust out of a closed casket, it seems, to do so?
Frankie Edgar: I don't think so. I think it actually adds to the story that much more. If anything it's better that it's bittersweet. I'm thankful I got that finish, and I think it just makes it that much sweeter.
David: You've always shown thanks to your training partners, and to that end I'd like to ask you about your boxing coach. What is it about Mark's relationship with you that allows you to process specific advice, as he did after both rounds that saw you hurt in the last two Gray fights, in the middle of battle with all that adrenaline and testosterone?
Frankie Edgar: Yea I definitely think there's something unique. First and foremost you have to have good chemistry. And me and Mark have great chemistry. And more than that he's a teacher. On top of the fact that we train these scenarios all the time, in different ways. In sparring when he tells me to adjust some, I do it. If you want to do something in a fight, to adjust like that, you have to be able to do it in practice. He's always on me, making me switch it up like that. And we bring in great sparring partners, like professional boxers, and so I have to adjust.
David: I realize you can't speak for other fighters, but why do you think other fighters lack that ability? To process specific advice, and in turn, for coaches to often ignore specific advice?
Frankie Edgar: I think it's just based on the fighter, and the trainer. Some fighters may not feel like they have to adjust. Or some fighters may feel the advice has to be general for them. I personally like the specific advice. So I guess emotion plays a role too, both for the fighter and the trainer.
David: Does it bother you that you have the gold around your waist, and no one else at 155 does, yet you're the one asked to drop to 145?
Frankie Edgar: Yea, well I'm used to it obviously, at this point. But I;m no different than what they tell other people. Just like people talk about George and Anderson. Or Anderson and Jones. I think it's just a matter of the megafight possibilities and the fights fans want to see.
David: Well, speaking of megafights. The same night you beat Gray, Jose Aldo put on a rather brilliant performance too. Guys at LW seem unable to compete with your speed, and I think for fans, the assumption is that here's a guy that can. Can you talk a bit about Aldo's performance, and a potential matchup?
Frankie Edgar: I think Aldo's a stud man. He's got it all. He's really fast. He's got a lot of power. He's fun to watch, and so I'm a fan. But in terms of a fight, I think I match up well with anybody. With Aldo, there are more things you have to worry about.
David: How do you think you'd deal with the leg kicks? It would be a unique look for you. Do you think it would simply open him up to takedowns?
Frankie Edgar: He throws that leg kick quicker than anyone I've ever seen. That's probably one of his biggest strengths, and something I'd have to address. It's something I'd have to catch right away, and practice in the gym a lot.
David: Obviously, this is a big weekend for the UFC. What are your thoughts on the UFC's signing with FOX? Are you hoping to get a spot on one of the FOX cards?
Frankie Edgar: I think it's great. I'd love to be on a FOX card, with all the exposure, and being able to fight with that many eyes on you would be huge. Just to say I fought on FOX is a big deal, and it just goes to show you how far this sport has come, and where it's going. It's no longer 'are we mainstream', but 'how much more mainstream can we get?'
David: Both Cain and Junior can box. With your emphasis on boxing, what aspects of their respective games do you like most?
Frankie Edgar: Well Junior throws heavy punches, and is the knockout puncher of the two. He's got a great uppercut. And Cain on the other hand is very well rounded. He understands the technical boxing very well. I can't wait for it. It's definitely the perfect fight to introduce the world to the UFC.
David: Wanna make a prediction?
Frankie Edgar: I don't know man. I just hope for the best. I'm not good with predictions.
David: Going back to boxing, do you study it much? Watching you fight, you certainly display the characteristics of a real student of the game.
Frankie Edgar: Mark (Henry) always has me look a different guys. Obviously Marque, and Pacquiao just to show me certain things and what I can do better. He likes showing me what fighters do particularly well, and so I also watch guys like Gamboa, Mayweather. And sometimes he busts out some older tapes, and we watch some Sugar Ray Leonard. But it's mostly what Mark thinks. He puts them on, and I watch them.
David: Speaking of boxing, who do you got in the Pacqiuao/Marquez fight?
Frankie Edgar: I'm definitely a fan of boxing. I got Pacquiao in that one. He's a little bit bigger now, and on such a roll.
David: I feel any interview wouldn't be complete without both a food and music question. So...what is your favorite item on the menu at Mark's pizzeria in Woodbridge?
Frankie Edgar: My favorite item is the upside down pizza.
David: What? (laughing)
Frankie Edgar: Upside down pizza. I don't even know what it is (laughing). It's just this pizza with cheese on the bottom and sauce on top.
David: Isn't that a conflict of interest? Eating pizza and being a professional athlete?
Frankie Edgar: I'm from Jersey man. We're all about pizza. That's where I get my muscles from.
David: (laughing) Just one more question. First, great selection of Kick in the Door by Biggie as a walkout song at UFC 136. Mark tells me you guys train to hip hop. Do you ever mix it up with rock music of your era, like Soundgarden, Tool, or Rage Against the Machine?
Frankie Edgar: I listen to everything when I'm driving. You name it, I'll listen to it. But when I'm boxing or working out, it's usually hip hope. You'll hear some rock music when I'm in the wrestling room but it's hip hop for the training room.