The UFC found themselves between a bit of a rock and a hard place with Frankie Edgar. The promotion really only likes to carry winners, and Frankie wasn't winning. That didn't mean that he wasn't one of the best fighters in the world, but he was only fighting other great fighters. To solve this problem they faced him up against touted, but under performing, prospect Charles Oliveira in a Featherweight fight designed to help one of the two rebuild some lost mojo.
The fight started at a blistering pace, with Edgar opening up with his trademark combinations, and Oliveira countering with a series of exciting submission attempts and some decent striking of his own. Edgar was able to dump Oliveira and punish him a bit for his submission attempts, but the young Brazilian held his own.
In the second round Oliveira looked to open a bit more of his kicking game, it being one of the few things that Edgar really lacks. Unfortunately for him, Frankie had the answer with his continued ability to catch kicks and push the kicker over. He punished Oliveira for his wild fighting style repeatedly and held a comfortable lead going into the third. One thing I noticed here was Oliveira's ability to clinch Edgar behind the head as Edgar tried to push his way out of combinations. It's a classic move by Edgar and the first time I've seen it stopped so effectively.
The third round followed much in the pattern of the other two. Neither Edgar nor Oliveira slowed at all, but "The Answer was always a combination ahead. His footwork and movement forced Oliveira to fight on his terms and Edgar made him pay with body/head hook combos. Midway through the round Edgar really started to land with authority and had Oliveira badly hurt, but was unable to finish the fight. Frankie Edgar def. Charles Oliveira via Unanimous Decision.
What was the high point?
The whole thing, all of it. For three rounds Edgar and Oliveira went back and forth and while Edgar got the better of the fight it was never less than competative. The UFC has a real gem in Oliveira at only 23 and he showed that he could be a fighter to be reckoned with for a long, long time.
What was the low point?
The idea of giving Oliveira this fight. As Nate mentioned Oliveira exited the cage in tears after this loss. He's a great young talent and the UFC seems to have no interest in where his career might be five years from now. He could be a champion, but at the pace they're pushing him, he could be fighting on the regional circuit too.
Where do they go from here?
For Edgar, this brings him right back to the doors of another title fight. I'd honestly like to see him get another no. 1 contenders bout before he moves on to title competition, and as I previously stated a fight with Cub Swanson seems a natural move. Otherwise a fight with Nik Lentz would be a nice way to buy him some time in the division without constantly feeding him champions or no 1. contenders.
Oliveira needs some realistic matchmaking. He needs seasoning, slow and steady against good competition, really anyone outside the top 5 would be good. A lot of great fighters are already on fights at the moment so I'd recommend the winner of Steven Siler vs. Mike Brown.
Watch it now, later, or never?
Watch it now, and then watch it again. Wait a day and watch it a third time. It's a great fight with a lot of talent and technique on display and well worth the price of admission.