If you’re reading this sentence right now, than you’re a braver man (or woman) than most.
Most people would read the outrageous title, think it was surely the work of a crazy person, and move right along. Or worse, decide to jump down my throat in the comments section without actually reading the content of the article.
For those fine folks, I look forward to my next article, which I think I’ll title “Don Frye’s Mustache Cedes from Face, declares Independence!”
But no, you decided to take the epic plunge that is five minutes of reading. You’ve come this far. Now it’s time to come a little bit further.
Frankie Edgar is the #1 pound-for-pound fighter in MMA. That’s the fortune cookie version of this article.
Before I get into why, let me get the usual disclaimers out the door. Yes, I understand that “pound-for-pound” is usually fan-speak for “whatever the hell I want it to mean”. Yes, I understand that P4P debates are often subjective, cyclical, and almost entirely irrelevant. Yes, I understand that any opinion I take on P4P rankings will open me up to criticism and attack from some angry fan out there.
And finally, just in case it needed to be said, this is my opinion and mine alone. I also happen to think “Starship Troopers” is one of the best films of all time, so clearly I’m not prone to mainstream thinking. Or I’m just a crazy person. Either way, put down your torches and pitchforks and let’s talk for a minute.
For my purposes, I’m going to use the “widely accepted” definition of P4P (yes, those are definitely finger quotes): if size were not a factor, if all UFC champions were the same size, who would win?
I believe, beyond all doubt (ok not really but it sounds nice) Frankie Edgar would be the last man standing in that situation.
But that’s crazy talk, right? I mean how can a fighter who has fought two guys for the last two years – and come close to losing to both of them – be the best fighter in the game?
Is squeaking out a decision over BJ Penn really more impressive than absolutely trucking a guy like “Shogun” Rua? Is getting nearly run over by a guy who once KO’ed himself a bigger deal than blasting Cain Velasquez on network TV, or dodging Yushin Okami’s punches like bullets in “The Matrix”, or turning Josh Koscheck into Quasimoto?
I say yes, it is. Maybe not taken on its own, but remember what we are talking about here: pound-for-pound. If all things were equal.
I haven’t sold you yet. I can tell. You’re looking down the list of UFC champions and it just isn’t adding up. “If all things were equal,” you complain in my head, the shrill grating of your voice matched only by the waft of your foul body odor (this is my blog, after all) “than (insert fighter here) would still have better (insert aspect of MMA game) than Frankie!”
Does Frankie have better boxing than Junior Dos Santos? It’s arguable. He certainly doesn’t hit as hard as Junior would were he 155, and he isn’t as good defensively either.
Is he a better wrestler than Jon Jones? Almost certainly not – though no one has thrown BJ around at LW the way Edgar did. Even Machida didn’t toss Penn like Frankie did – and Machida was holding his own pretty well wrestling wise against Jon Jones last weekend.
Is Frankie on the level of calculated perfection in the cage that GSP is? No, he’s not. But if so much as a crack appears in his invincibility – like, let’s say, an errant thumb in the eyeball – GSP gets a little rattled. In contrast, you could hit Frankie with a baseball bat in between rounds and he’d still come out calm, focused, and ready to take care of business.
To most fans, Frankie Edgar is not exceptional, not like those other champions I listed.
But he is exceptional, in one key way: he doesn’t know the meaning of quit, of panic, or despair. He might be the most mentally solid fighter in MMA.
And that’s why Frankie Edgar is the P4P best fighter in the game.
Bring everyone down to Frankie Edgar’s level – a natural 145′er, ruling over 155 with an iron grip – and I guarantee he would reign supreme. Bring him up to the size of a Jon Jones or Junior Dos Santos – without sacrificing his speed – and I think he’d beat those guys. You know, if the magic P4P “Honey, I blew up the Frankie” ray gun existed.
Frankie is exceptional because he doesn’t have Junior’s one hitter quitter, or Jones’ awesome reach, or Silva or GSP’s unearthly athleticism. He doesn’t have a particularly strong chin. He hits with solid but not face-liquifying power. He’s dwarfed by everyone he fights.
Yet he finds a way to win. Every time. Ok, so occasionally he only finds a way to draw – but considering what he had to go through to get that draw, I say it was a moral victory at the very least.
On multiple occasions, he’s met total disaster with calm and poise. He takes beatings that would carry jail time if they happened in the street, and comes out the next round bouncing around like nothing had happened. He faces guys who are straight better than him – better boxers, better wrestlers, better BJJ guys, bigger men, harder hitters – and breaks them in the fire of his pace and determination.
I know this whole debate is ridiculous, and I know you probably disagree with me already and can’t wait to tell me how wrong I am. I’m in no position to tell you differently. I can’t prove any of what I’ve written.
Yet I have a feeling that if you made the MMA world Franke Edgar’s size, he’d never lose.
That’s my definition of the P4P champion.
Whatever that means.
By Elton Hobson