With his bantamweight debut scheduled for January, Frankie Edgar already had plenty on his plate when he heard about Brian Ortega suffering an injury that forced him out of his upcoming fight against “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung at UFC Busan on Dec. 21.
Last year, Edgar was a few weeks away from a fight of his own against the South Korean native at the UFC’s 25th anniversary show but an injury knocked him off the event much the same way as it did Ortega.
While the opportunity was there to settle some unfinished business with Jung, Edgar had a fight booked against Cory Sandhagen just over a month away but he still felt compelled to call the UFC to offer his services.
“I heard that [Brian] Ortega was hurt and I went to my team and I touched base and I said if you need someone, I’m available,” Edgar explained when speaking to MMA Fighting.
“I feel like I was ready. My team liked the fight. Lately, I’m just about experiences and this is a good experience to have in my life. I’ve done a lot in this career. I’ve never taken a fight on two weeks’ notice across the country, so why not add that to the repertoire.”
Long term, Edgar says his future still lies in the bantamweight division but after going through an entire training camp getting ready for Jung last year, it felt like an opportunity too good to pass up even if it was on short notice.
“It played a part. I felt like we were very familiar with him,” Edgar added. “We were so close to fighting just a year ago so it wasn’t that far off.
“We were supposed to fight and I want to right that wrong.
Activity also played a part in Edgar’s decision after he only fought twice in 2018 and one time thus far in 2019. He had hoped to compete much sooner following his loss to Max Holloway in July but initially the earliest date he could be booked was the fight early next year against Sandhagen.
“I’ve been trying to fight for a while,” Edgar said. “I only got to fight twice last year because of injuries and it was only going to be once again this year. So I’m happy to get two in this year.”
As far as what comes next after his fight in South Korea, Edgar responded to rumors that he was planning on making a quick turn around from the fight against “The Korean Zombie” to then face Sandhagen on Jan. 25 at UFC Raleigh from North Carolina.
Edgar lives by the mantra ‘never say never’ but he’s not even thinking about January right now with his fight against Jung a matter of days away from now.
“Right now, I really don’t want to think about Cory. I think I’ve got to worry about the Zombie, first and foremost,” Edgar said. “I mean hey I’ll never say die. If it works out, we’ll see what happens but the test in front of me is no joke. I know it will be a great fight with him. That’s first and foremost.
“There’s no gimmes in this sport, especially a guy like “The Korean Zombie” with his fighting style. I’m expecting a war. I’m preparing for a war. That’s the kind of fighter I am. I can’t think about January right now. I’ve got to worry about Dec. 21. That’s what’s on my mind.”
Sandhagen was understandably disappointed to hear Edgar was taking a short notice fight against Jung when they were already scheduled for January, but the 38-year-old veteran was only doing what he thought was best for his career.
It’s entirely possible that he’ll cross paths with Sandhagen one day in the future but for now Edgar is solely focused on Dec. 21.
“It sucks. That’s the breaks,” Edgar said when addressing Sandhagen. “I’ve definitely been disappointed in this game quite a bit myself. I’m sure I’ll meet him down the road if not in January.”