Last week, UFC President Dana White’s world was collapsing around him.  That sounds a little dramatic, but it’s true.

In the current state of the UFC, injuries have shaken up almost every fight card, but the UFC was always able to put something together on short notice.  Unfortunately for White, that all changed when he had to announce the cancellation of UFC 151, because a champion, one of his guys, wouldn’t take a replacement fight.

Two weeks prior to the UFC 151 debacle, another subject of White’s misery, extremely poor judging, clearly robbed Frankie Edgar of his chance to win his lightweight title belt back at UFC 150.

Needless to say, August of 2012 was not shaping up to be the best month for the UFC chief.  But, much to his chagrin, a silver lining began to form around his dark cloud.

Dana White has a tremendous amount of respect and admiration for Frankie Edgar.  Although he loves the thought of a featherweight Edgar, he gave Frankie the benefit of the doubt, and let him stay at lightweight, where Edgar has been one of the smaller guys in the division.  Edgar wanted it, so White and Joe Silva, the UFC matchmaker, let him stay.

Well, that all changed on Aug. 31.  On Friday, it was announced that Erik Koch had to be pulled from the UFC 153 card, because of, big surprise, an injury.  Finally, an injury White could work with.  Koch was set to face the arguably No. 4 pound-for-pound fighter in the world and UFC featherweight champ, Jose Aldo.

So, they’ve got a displaced lightweight champ who hasn’t needed to cut weight before, making it an easy transition to featherweight, and a featherweight champ who has run the gamut in his division for so long that there are quite possibly no real contenders left for him.  It doesn’t take rocket science for Joe Silva to figure that one out, and now the UFC management has a superfight set for Oct. 13 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil’s UFC 153:  Aldo vs. Edgar.

For several years, there have been talks of various superfights.  Between Anderson Silva, Jon Jones and Georges St-Pierre, fans have had dreams of such bouts, that for one reason or another have never materialized.  But the lighter weight classes never get mentioned in this context.  Aldo vs. Edgar is a huge superfight.

Some fans and fellow fighters were upset that Chael Sonnen was the challenger that UFC wanted to face Jones for the light heavyweight title at the now defunct UFC 151.  Sonnen had only recently accepted a challenge to move up to 205, after being a perennial middleweight contender, and hadn’t really earned a shot at the light heavyweight strap.  That being said, this is most certainly not the case with Frankie Edgar.

There won’t be much complaining when it comes to Edgar’s offer to fight for the title in his featherweight debut, because he is a true featherweight that has been masquerading as a lightweight champion.  And there is literally no featherweight more qualified to face Jose Aldo than Edgar.  This was not the case with Sonnen.

Frankie Edgar, who walks around at about 156 pounds, has been ruling the lightweights for years, but all that changed in his first fight against Benson Henderson.  Edgar lost his title of over two years, by a unanimous decision that was possibly due to one upkick from Henderson’s back that really stunned the champ.  Last month, Edgar got his shot to win it back, and, by any possible metric, did, by a score of 48-47, but bad judging gave the fight to Henderson.  He made the decision to drop a division, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.

On some recent pound-for-pound rankings, Edgar is listed as eighth, one below Henderson, and Aldo is ranked fourth.

Jose Aldo has lost once in his eight years of professional fighting, and his only loss was way back in November 2005 in his one and only lightweight pro fight.  The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt has finished eight of his eleven Zuffa fights by KO or TKO, with his other three wins coming by unanimous decision.  This is an astonishing record for a black belt in ground fighting.

Aldo is an unstoppable force at featherweight.  He has decisively beaten every 145-pounder that WEC and UFC have been able to put in front of him.  There was literally no current featherweight that Aldo hadn’t gone through, until now.

The Aldo vs. Edgar match-up is a once-in-a-lifetime case of a fighter moving weight classes and deserving a title shot in his debut.  Nobody deserves this fight more than Edgar, and, should he win, he will join the ranks of Randy Couture and B.J. Penn as one of the only fighters to hold titles in two different weight classes.  Therein lies the problem for Edgar.  To win the belt, he has to make it through Aldo.

Aldo is by far the better all-around fighter, but hasn’t faced anybody at 145 with Edgar’s strength and amazing boxing skills.  However, while Edgar will pose the biggest threat yet to the champ, he may not be able to deal with Aldo’s freakish abilities.  Aldo has been considered the featherweight division’s Anderson Silva for many years, and has a six-year, 14-fight winning streak to back it up.  Edgar also has a tremendously impressive record, but not quite as impressive as Aldo’s.

Any betting man would give any other fight to Aldo by TKO, but not this one.  In 15 lightweight fights under the Zuffa banner, Edgar has only produced one KO and one TKO.  This doesn’t exactly scream “knockout power,” but that was against guys that are ten pounds heavier.  Aldo, on the other hand, has made it a habit of knocking out featherweights.

This poses one of the most interesting match-ups of the year.  Will Aldo be able to knock out the challenger, who took almost every lightweight fight to decision?  Will Edgar finally show knockout power at a lighter weight class?  And, ultimately, will we see anything different out of Aldo, or will this just be another guy to run through on his march to the UFC Hall of Fame?

All of these questions will be answered in about a month and a half.  In the meantime, Zuffa finally got a break.

For Dana White, his dream has been granted, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.  With Jon Jones ducking the title defense against Chael Sonnen, and Erik Koch’s injury, not only does Dana finally get his silver lining, but he gets his chance to show Jon Jones that Edgar has the heart they expect from their champions.  Two of the world’s greatest fighters will collide at UFC 153, but there is no real fan of the sport who could ever argue that Edgar doesn’t deserve this shot.

Photo: Frankie Edgar (James Law/Heavy MMA)

About The Author

Dan Kuhl
Interview Coordinator