Should Frankie move down to Featherweight?
Whenever someone loses twice to a reigning champ, it is almost undoubtedly followed by calls for fighters to change weight classes. After losing a second bout with champ Benson Henderson , Frankie Edgar is no different. Or is he? We have heard even Dana White, saying Frankie should move down in weight, even when he was still champ. Advocates of Frankie moving down can be very persuasive, but what makes this particular argument interesting, are those in favor of him staying at 155 lbs can be just as persuasive, and sometimes even more persuasive. In the paragraphs below, I will tackle some of the arguments I have heard, and share what I think about each argument.
It is in the best interest of Frankie Edgar’s health to move down to 145 lbs. This is probably the argument I have heard more than any, dating back to Frankie vs. BJ Penn II, and even Dana White has said this. On paper, this is a really valid argument. Frankie is 5’6” tall, and does not need to cut weight to make 155lbs. In contrast, the combatants in the next Lightweight Championship fight are 6’0” tall (Nate Diaz) and 5’9” (Benson Henderson). Body types matter, but Frankie isn’t a thick guy, and a typical lightweight usually stands at 5’9 minimum. While this seems like a strong argument, I am not completely convinced. This may prove to be true over time, but Frankie has never been knocked out, and is turning 31 this fall. If Frankie hangs it up still in his prime, he has a good 12-14 fights left maximum. By that estimate, Frankie is more than half way through his career and has taken less damage than a lot of fighters fighting in their “correct” weight class. If Frankie wants to stay at 155 lbs. His history supports him.
Frankie’s biggest strength at 155 is his size. This is at least somewhat true. I don’t see Frankie being anywhere near as elusive at 145 as he is at 155. Frankie’s speed allows him to compete with guys at 155 lbs., but I am not convinced that he would lose that advantage at 145 lbs. Jose Aldo is probably the only guy at 145 who can match Frankie’s speed, and he is champ. Jose Aldo, probably also is just as powerful as anyone at 155 lbs. Against Gray Maynard, the determining factor in the fight ended up being Frankie’s heart and deceiving power that got him the win. Frankie like Jose Aldo, is a freak talent. I believe if Frankie did decide to go down to 145lbs., he would be very successful.
People love Frankie because he is the Rocky of MMA. This is one argument I agree with. I remember on the card that Frankie won the title from BJ, I predicted the upset. Unfortunately, the upset I predicted was Demian Maia over Anderson Silva. Boy was I wrong there. Not until he beat BJ the second time did I truly buy into Frankie as a great fighter, and then came the Gray Maynard fights. Frankie’s comebacks were epic in nature and spawned viral youtube videos portraying Frankie as Rocky. It was an amazing couple of years for Frankie that turned me into a lifelong Frankie Edgar fan. In my eyes Frankie truly is the people’s champ, and if he moved down to 145 lbs., he would no longer be the underdog. Maybe my sports viewing habits are a bit too cinematic, but I am a sucker for a storyline.
Frankie is at the back of the line at 155 lbs. This is the last point I will bring up, and the most valid for Frankie to move to 145 lbs. In the past two years Frankie is 1-2-1 at lightweight, and has only fought 2 different opponents. Due to the fact Frankie often goes the distance in controversial fights, it is unlikely the UFC will throw him right back into the mix at lightweight. If Frankie moved to featherweight, he would be at worst, one fight away from a title shot. A fight between Frankie Edgar, and Jose Aldo is also a far more marketable fight than Frankie against any Lightweight. Frankie wouldn’t be my Rocky anymore, but I would pay to see him fight Jose Aldo in a second.