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Frankie Edgar, Urijah Faber recall first time their paths crossed

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Just how wild is UFC Fight Night 66's mega-fight between Frankie Edgar and Urijah Faber? Well, combined, the two lighter weight luminaries represent 22 years of mixed martial arts excellence forged over a pair of the sport's biggest titles, a ridiculous 20-1 record in WEC/UFC non-championship bouts, plus a side helping of footwork, speed, and wrestling aplenty.

So since such an immense trophy case is involved, please excuse Faber if he still sounds like a kid basking in the glow of Christmas morning.

"Man, it's been a long time," Faber admitted on The MMA Hour when asked how long it's been since he's been this excited for a fight. "Probably not since Jens Pulver, and Jens Pulver was a guy who was the first world champion for the UFC and had a win over B.J. Penn, and someone I'd looked up to for a long time. Man, I got so excited for that fight. So I would say that this is in the same boat.

"It's funny because I remember -- I don't know if Frankie remembers the first time we met. It was in the locker room at the Mandalay Bay, at the spa down there. He was about to fight Tyson Griffin, and I think that's probably the first time I met him.

"We just talked for a second, and then we didn't really talk much after that for years. ... I've been a fan ever since that fight because that was the first time we saw Frankie get in there and throw down. So I'm just excited to have this fight."

That first meeting was back in Feb. 2007, less than a year into Faber's legendary run atop WEC's blue cage and long before Edgar ever captured the UFC lightweight title from B.J. Penn like a thief in the night.

Back then Edgar was little known and little regarded, just another 25-year-old grinder with aspirations to rule the UFC's newly reintroduced 155-pound division. So for a newbie with just two years in the game, catching a chance to snag some advice from a respected voice like Faber, who already had fought Griffin in 2005, was an invaluable experience.

"Just the notion that it's Urijah Faber, when I first came into the UFC, he was the man," Edgar said. "He was the guy who everyone was trying to be. And for me to finally be able to be across from him in the Octagon, it's definitely exciting.

"I do remember that conversation we had before my first fight in the UFC, in the Mandalay Bay locker room. I remember talking to my buddies, like, ‘Wow, Urijah Faber, the champion of the WEC, he was always in commercials on TV. He's actually pretty cool.' So for him to be a classy guy from the get-go, I still hold him in that regard. But of course, the competitor in me doesn't want to lose to him. I kinda feel like at the lighter weights, who's the most popular guys in the more recent years? And I would say me and Urijah, so I want to be able to take that home with me. But I know he's going to bring it and I am as well."

The match-up between Edgar and Faber is one that's been teased and whispered about for years. Chatter gained some steam once Edgar made his move to featherweight official in early 2013, and now, after all of that, the time has finally arrived. On May 16, at the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines, the two former champions will tangle inside the Octagon -- just don't expect any or Twitter beefs or mud-slinging affairs to arise in the interim.

"I mean, you know how I am. I keep it simple," Edgar said. "I got no bad blood with Urijah. He seems to be a classy guy himself, so I'm sure we'll keep it professional. I guarantee that the fight's going to be entertaining though. You don't need all that talk for it to be an entertaining fight."

Edgar's message isn't surprising. Both he and Faber have historically shied away from the McGregor-esque antics that currently reign over the featherweight division.

But really, it doesn't much matter... because every so often a fight comes along that is so fascinating stylistically, it effectively sells itself. And in that regard, Edgar versus Faber certainly qualifies.

"I think you won't know (what to expect) until you're right in front of the guy," Faber said. "But I'm going to be counting on a small speed advantage, and I know that he's got great wrestling for MMA. Mine's pretty good. I've also got great submissions for MMA, and his are pretty good, so it's an interesting match-up, man. Power, we'll see how that matches up. We'll see how size matches up, we'll see who's going to do what gameplan, but I'm planning on being ahead in every part of the fight, whether it's punches first and not getting hit, or capitalizing off of takedowns. I'm just ready to scrap."

"Urijah is probably going to be the first guy that I am bigger than that I've fought in my career, so it'll be a little different being the bigger guy," Edgar added. "But again, I'm not that much bigger. He walks around at 158. I'm probably 160 right now myself.

"We're pretty evenly matched. So I've just gotta be me. I've just gotta show up like I do every fight, and as long as I fight to the best of my ability and let everything fly, I'll get that ‘W'."

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