Frankie Edgar doesn’t spent a lot of time thinking about everything he accomplished in his career. But it’s nearly impossible for him to avoid those subjects now that he’s plotting his retirement after UFC 281.
A 29-fight veteran in the UFC with 17 years of experience under his belt, the New Jersey native has competed in three different weight classes, fought for titles in two different divisions, became a champion at lightweight and remained a stalwart in the rankings throughout his remarkable career.
While it’s difficult to encapsulate all of his accolades by narrowing down to just one favorite moment, the now 41-year-old fighter admits there’s one achievement that will always stand out ahead of the others.
“That’s the feather in the cap,” Edgar said about winning the UFC lightweight title on The Fighter vs. The Writer. “Winning a title, that’s been my goal ever since I got into sports. When I was a wrestler, I wanted to win a state title and then a national title. I always came a close second. Missed All-American in triple overtime and I finally reached my goal.
“That was just amazing that feeling, I’ll never forget it. One of the best things to happen to me in my sports career for sure.”
Edgar’s improbable run to become a UFC champion took him through arguably one of the greatest lightweights in history after he defeated B.J. Penn. He then had to do it all over again five months later and Edgar put a stamp on his title reign with an even more dominant showing over Penn in the rematch.
Both of those wins over Penn were unforgettable, but Edgar said those aren’t the fights that generally come up when fans want to talk about his career. Instead, Edgarit’s a pair of back-to-back fights that saw him display a level of durability and determination that may never be seen inside the octagon again.
“Definitely the [Gray] Maynard fights,” Edgar said. “Always the top of the list. Whether on Twitter or just out and about. They definitely talk about those. I took a shellacking at the start of both of those fights. They were definitely talked about the most.”
By all accounts, Edgar probably should have been done at the start of both of his fights against Gray Maynard in 2011 but somehow he found a way to survive and forge a comeback. Edgar battled back to a draw in his first title fight against Maynard but then delivered a stunning fourth-round knockout in their next encounter.
“That’s how you get remembered,” Edgar said about those epic wars. “It’s going to be wild to be done because I started wrestling when I was 13 and I’ve been chasing glory ever since then. For reasons like that.”
Just over a year after he faced Maynard for the final time, Edgar left the division entirely to turn his attention to featherweight and then eventually bantamweight, which is where his career will come to an end on Saturday.
Almost always undersized and overpowered, Edgar kept finding a way to win no matter the weight class or the opponent. Outside of winning a title, Edgar hopes that’s what people will remember most about him when his fighting days are over.
“When [people] look back on my career, and it’s like damn this guy fought everybody,” Edgar said. “Getting into the sport, I didn’t plan to fight across three different weight classes but just the nature of the game and when I first got in, [155 pounds] was the only weight class I could have fought in. I kind of ended up there by default. That’s just a true martial artist.
“I think this sport was really put on the map by Royce Gracie — a little guy coming in there and beating bigger guys. Being versatile and being able to fight and win at three different classes is a little bit of a throwback to that.”
Given everything he’s done in his career, Edgar would seemingly be a lock to be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame one day in the near future. He said that wasn’t the reason he got involved in the sport, though he certainly wouldn’t complain about the nod if the UFC bestowed it upon him.
“I put a lot into this,” Edgar said. “In every fight I did, I put my all into. Whether it was in training or the fights. You watch any of my fights, you know I’m willing give it my all to get the victory.
“To get recognized for that, I think yeah, that’s definitely something that I look forward to. Otherwise, why did I care so much about being successful?”