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Fightweets: Is Frankie Edgar returning too soon?

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Frankie Edgar post presser EL

You have questions. I have answers. Let’s get right into it, then.

Frankie Edgar’s next fight

@spacebawz: Replying to @davedoylemma Frankie is making a mistake taking the Swanson fight so soon, right?

@ThatKiddSwiz: Thoughts on Frankie Edgar fighting so soon?

This week’s news that Frankie Edgar is expected to fight Cub Swanson in a rematch on April 21 in Atlantic City sure had a familiar ring to it.

The popular former UFC lightweight champion will step back into the cage just seven weeks after being knocked out in brutal fashion by Brian Ortega at UFC 222.

The Edgar-Swanson news is only a few months removed from Michael Bisping — three weeks from being choked unconscious by Georges St-Pierre — traveling halfway around the world just to find himself on the wrong end of a knockout at the hands of Kelvin Gastelum.

In that three-week span, Bisping went from someone who was UFC middleweight champion to someone discussed as if his career is already in the past tense. When he next returns, it’s very likely to be his retirement fight.

What Edgar is trying to accomplish isn’t quite as drastic as what Bisping attempted. Edgar is not traveling to the other side of the planet. And there’s twice as much time between his two fights as there were for Bisping’s.

But the risks are all the same. Edgar is 36. He’s about to take his 30th professional fight. He’s always been a fighter willing to take a shot in order to land one. There might be seven weeks between fights, but he’s going to be sparring at a time he should be resting.

At the end of the day, we all have free will. Frankie Edgar is a fighter. This is his life, his job, and his passion. Edgar’s willingness to take on all challengers is exactly the sort of thing that has made him one of the sport’s most popular competitors for a decade running.

If he defeats Swanson, he’s back in the mix, and this will seem like a lot of hand wringing about nothing. But we’ve already seen just how quickly Bisping went from being viewed as a pivotal player to one past his prime, and Edgar is running the same risk by returning so soon.

On Anthony Joshua, and DJ vs. TJ

@72mash: The small guy superfight just has to happen right? Even if it’s just to get some hype behind the least cared about men’s division in UFC!

There were a couple of, umm, interesting news items which broke about a day apart from one another this week. The first is that Zuffa Boxing, the UFC’s newly hatched boxing wing, is reportedly willing to offer heavyweight kingpin Anthony Joshua up to $500 million for a promotional contract.

You have to take those numbers with a grain of salt. But since the UFC simply declined to comment on the report, rather than issue a denial, you have to assume this smoke leads to a fire.

Then came UFC president Dana White telling the Los Angeles Times that the proposed superfight between bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw and flyweight champ Demetrious Johnson isn’t happening. That, too, needs to be taken with a grain of salt, because you’d get whiplash trying to keep track of all the times Dana has declared fights “dead” that turned out to be anything but.

So how does this all tie together? It comes back, as do most things, to the multi-billion-dollar price tag WME/Endeavor spent on purchasing the UFC two years ago. The company needs to recoup the money somehow. Since they bought the fight promotion, the biggest paycheck they got by a landslide was in simply going along for the ride in the Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor bout. With boxing becoming hotter than it has been in quite some time, why wouldn’t they look at expanding their promotional reach?

That’s one way to look at it. Here’s another: Imagine if the UFC broke off just one percent of that $500 million figure being bandied about (which again, deserves healthy skepticism, but we’re taking it at face value for the sake of argument here), and put it into making D.J. vs. T.J. work. Take part of it and give the champions the million-dollar paydays they deserve. Take the rest and put in a real effort to make a “Primetime” or “24/7”-type series, and really, you know, promote this fight and blow it up as big as you can, rather than go through the motions of standard fight week publicity, so that you bring in more than enough revenue to make the fight worth your while.

If this reported Anthony Joshua number is even close to true, then Endeavor obviously has money to spend coming that’s coming from somewhere. Maybe if they invested that money back into their core product when they had an obvious killer fight like D.J. vs. T.J., they wouldn’t need to chase after boxers in order to grow their business.

So what next for D.J., then?

@volkstyles: Who do you see Mighty Mouse fighting next? Will Cejudo get his rematch?

If Johnson vs. Dillashaw really is dead, then it would seem to come down to a two-horse race between Henry Cejudo and Joseph Benavidez. Cejudo, who lost to Mighty Mouse at UFC 197, has rebounded nicely with wins over Wilson Reis and Sergio Pettis. Benavidez has lost twice to D.J. But the most recent loss was in 2013 and he’s won six fights since, including a split decision over Cejudo. He fights Pettis at UFC 225. As for who gets the nod if the superfight doesn’t happen, this seems to be a matter of timing: How soon does Mighty Mouse want to return? That could end up the deciding factor.

RDA, Colby, and interim belts

@Mzeoli3: Do you think Colby VS RDA is a ridiculous interim title fight? If it’s a main event it won’t break 200k buys. And it should just be for the #1 contender spot IMO

Well, the fight hasn’t been confirmed as of this writing, but since it’s been dominating the chatter over the past couple days, let’s assume for the sake of argument it is true.

Rafael dos Anjos vs. Colby Covington is a solid fight all on its own merits. RDA, the former lightweight champion, has looked in peak form since going up to welterweight. Covington, for all you can criticize about his social media antics, has indisputably gotten the job done in the Octagon, with five straight wins, an 8-1 UFC record, and his biggest win to date last time out, against Demian Maia.

That’s just talking about the fight itself. That doesn’t even factor in the spectacle it’s going to be, if it does in fact end up at UFC 224 in Rio de Janeiro, in the country where Covington turned himself into Public Enemy No. 1 in the runup to the Maia fight in Sao Paulo.

None of this needs an interim title belt to move the needle. I ran a Twitter poll a couple days back, asking if interim titles make you more or less likely to buy a pay-per-view, or whether it makes no difference. While this is far from scientific, out of more than 1,000 votes, nearly 80 percent of you said interim belts neither make you more or less likely to watch a card.

Maybe it’s just apathy. Part and parcel of following MMA is getting outraged about something, then slowly, if not exactly embracing it, then accepting it as one of those things under the carnival big top.

But even if we’ve just mentally thrown in the towel and accepted that the UFC will continue handing out interim belts like Halloween candy (Hey, I just had an idea: If we called D.J. vs. T.J. an “interim superfight”, Dana would probably sign the bout tomorrow), that doesn’t mean each individual case is merited.

Tyron Woodley is, as of this writing, eight months removed from his most recent welterweight title defense. Prior to that, he fought four times in a one-year span, against killers like Robbie Lawler, Stephen Thompson (twice), and Maia. As a champion, Woodley could not be any further removed from the Conor McGregor method of winning a title and then doing everything under the sun against defending it.

The interim title is an insult to someone who has worked as hard as Woodley. RDA vs. Covington is a worthy No. 1 contender’s fight all on its own and doesn’t need a cheap prop to drum up hype that four in five of you have indicated you don’t care about either way.

The main event

@Blind_Jhon: Who would win, Trump or Biden.

You’ve seen how Trump actually reacts in the moment when he feels threatened, right?

Biden by first-round TKO.