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UFC veteran Frankie Edgar's remarkable career isn't close to being over

Kevin Iole
·Combat columnist
·5-min read

LAS VEGAS — Four fighters made their promotional debut at UFC 67. Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic was already one of the most significant stars in mixed martial arts when he took on Eddie Sanchez on Feb. 3, 2007 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center.

Quinton “Rampage” Jackson debuted in the UFC on that night as well, opening a massive gash on the forehead of former UNLV football player Marvin Eastman, forcing a stoppage. In his next fight, Jackson would knock out the iconic Chuck Liddell to become the UFC light heavyweight champion.

A future UFC light heavyweight champion, Lyoto Machida, debuted largely anonymously in a winning effort against Sam Hoger.

The only one of those four who is still in the UFC, and who by far has had the most stellar career of the group, was the most unknown at the time.

Frankie Edgar was 24 years old and coming off a win over Jim Miller at Reality Fighting 14 when he met Tyson Griffin on the preliminary card that night.

Now, 14 years later, he’ll face Cory Sandhagen in the co-main event of UFC Vegas 18 on Saturday (8 p.m. ET, ESPN+) at Apex.

When Edgar defeated Griffin in a Fight of the Night battle — his first of eight Fight of the Night awards in the UFC — Sandhagen was a 14-year-old freshman in high school.

It’s been an incredible ride, and it’s not close to being over by a long shot.

“I haven’t put a number or a date on that,” Edgar said of retirement. “I keep saying three things. I have to wake up in the morning still wanting to do this. My body has to allow me to do it, and I have to be able to compete with the best guys. If I’m losing to someone I don’t think is in my league or shouldn’t be in my league, that’s when I’ll call it. If I can check those three boxes, and so far I’ve been able to do so, we’ll ride it till the wheels fall off.”

It’s been a remarkable career by any standard. A guy who by all rights should have been competing at bantamweight in 2007 when he joined the UFC would go on to win the lightweight championship because there were no bantamweights in the UFC at the time.

Frankie Edgar prepares to fight Pedro Munhoz of Brazil in their bantamweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on August 22, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Frankie Edgar (24-8-1) is fighting in his third weight class since joining the UFC in 2007. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

He’s fought in three divisions, gone 18-8-1 in the UFC and beaten some of the toughest guys ever in the UFC. Among his wins are those over two Hall of Famers, B.J. Penn and Urijah Faber; and victories over men still ranked in the Top 10 at lightweight (No. 3 Charles Oliveira), featherweight (No. 4 Yair Rodriguez) and bantamweight (No. 8 Pedro Munhoz).

Edgar hasn’t faced an opponent who has not been ranked in the Top 10 since the UFC began the rankings in February 2013. Though there were no rankings for the first six years of Edgar’s career, you’d have to go back to Matt Veach at “The Ultimate Fighter” finale in 2009 to find the last time he faced someone who wasn’t a Top 10 opponent.

He’s been in virtually every fight he’s taken. He’s only been finished twice, by Chan Sung Jung in 2019 and by Brian Ortega in 2018. He’s never been submitted.

Edgar loves what he does and that drives him. He’s got plenty of business interests that he doesn’t have to fight to put food on the table. Through all of his success, he’s remained remarkably the same.

He takes the good times and the bad times in stride and never loses focus on what’s most important.

“You have to talk to yourself,” Edgar said, trying to explain how he’s avoided getting down on himself in the lean times. “You have to believe in yourself and you have to know who you are. You can’t listen to outside noise. If you listen to outside noise, it’s a cruel world out there, especially on social media at times. I don’t really care what anybody else says. I look in the mirror and I know who I am.

“I’m the same person who I was in 2007 when I first stepped into the Octagon.”

It’s not close to over, and a win over Sandhagen will be a huge one. Sandhagen is a -450 favorite at BetMGM. A win there and Edgar is going to be calling for a title shot.

The odds are against him, but be honest: They were against him in nearly every fight he’s taken. He’s given up physical advantages time after time, yet he continues to produce.

The way he’s going, he’s liable to give Randy Couture a run for the money as the oldest fighter ever to compete in the UFC. Couture was 47 in his final bout, against Machida. Edgar won’t turn 40 until October, but is it possible he’ll still be fighting in 2028?

Unlikely, perhaps, but this is Frankie Edgar we’re talking about.

Never, ever, say never where he’s concerned.

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