In a stacked lightweight division, Frankie Edgar stands out. He’s one of the most talented and exciting fighters the sport has seen in some time, and going into his seventh fight in the UFC, against Matt Hughes disciple Matt Veach, is a grizzled veteran at just 28. Heavy.com talked with Edgar, just one day before the weigh ins, about his career, whether he would ever tap, and what the future holds.
Heavy.com: How are you feeling? Thursday was the worst day when it comes to the UFC. Nothing to do but think until the weigh ins tomorrow?
Frankie Edgar: It’s not that bad for me. I don’t have to cut a lot of weight. I went for a run this morning, but I’ll probably go out ot lunch with my family and friends later. I’m just focused on Saturday, focused on the fight.
Heavy.com: Every fight is so magnified in importance. Even great prospects like Jake Rosholt are getting cut when they lose. How do you deal with a job where there is that kind of pressure to perform?
Frankie Edgar: That’s tough. You can’t really think about losing your job if you don’t fight well. I think if you fight hard and put on a good show, the UFC is going to take care of you. It’s a high pressure job, but a lot of jobs are like that. If you’re a CEO or you’re on Wall Street, you have to perform there too.
Heavy.com: This will be your seventh fight in the Octagon. This is his second. What kind of difference does that make?
Frankie Edgar: It definitely has its benefits. You know how the organization runs the show. You know what it’s like to be under the lights with the crowd screaming their heads off. But honestly, I was never that flustered, not even as a newbie.
Heavy.com: Do you have a trick to keeping sane on fight week?
Frankie Edgar: I just try not to think about the fight at all. Except when I’m working out out I don’t even let it cross my mind. If you let it, it will lay on you. That’s not good for you mentally. It’s not good for you physically, to have your heart racing the whole week before a fight. So, I just don’t even think about it.
Heavy.com: It must be hard having some jerk like me call you right before the fight then to ask you a bunch of questions?
Frankie Edgar: Nah man. This is just part of it. Part of the business
Heavy.com: Can you talk a little about your mental toughness? I was so impressed in your very first fight in the Octagon where you refused to lose to Tyson Griffin. Did tapping cross your mind?
Frankie Edgar: I didn’t think about it then. I felt I was up on the judge’s scorecards and knew there wasn’t a lot of time left. That isn’t to say I would never tap, but I was willing to let him pop my knee out, to give that up, to get the “W.”
Heavy.com: But in the right situation, with three minutes to go in a round and you’re stuck in an armbar-you would tap? Only Renzo Gracie is crazy enough to never tap.
Frankie Edgar: (Laughs) I don’t know man. Right now I can say yes. For sure I would. But in the middle of a fight with all the adrenaline? I’m a pretty competitive person. I guess we’d have to find out. Hopefully we never will.
Heavy.com: Do fights like that make you feel any pressure to live up to what have become huge expectations. For you people want more than a win. They want to be entertained. Have people in Zuffa encouraged you to keep the action fights coming?
Frankie Edgar: The UFC definitely wants their fights to be exciting. And I do too. That’s the kind of person I am, the kind of fighter. I think most of my fights have been exciting and action packed. It takes the other side too, you know? Your opponent has to be willing to have an exciting fight or it is never going to happen. Luckily the division has plenty of well rounded and evenly matched guys. The great fights just seem to happen.
Heavy.com: You’ve won Fight of the Night twice. The prize looks like it could be yours again. Does that influence you at all, knowing he’s a scrappy kid?
Frankie Edgar: That money doesn’t hurt, I can tell you that. Fight of the night? We both have similar styles. We come from wrestling but we’re ready to scrap. Fight of the night means you’ve been in a war. I’m down with that. As long as I get the “W” I’m good. the extra money is nice, but the win is the most important thing.
Heavy.com: In the Sean Sherk fight you were the underdog for sure. Now you are on top, title fight in sight. How does that change things, knowing he is the one with nothing to lose?
Frankie Edgar: Anyone can say they have no worries. But everyone worries about losing. Whether you are the underdog or not, you are worried about the fight. I hope I present him some problems, so he’s got to worry about something. I’ve just got to make sure I do my job.
Heavy.com: Where do you see yourself in the title hunt? Obviously Maynard and the Guida/Florian winner are right there. And Griffin. Are you in that mix?
Frankie Edgar: I’m right there in the mix. I just have to do my job. Maynard and myself are next in line. If not after this one, soon. I’ll be fighting for the title soon. That’s what I’m in it for. I want to be in the main event and fight for the title. I didn’t get in this sport to be a perennial undercard guy. Win, lose, win, lose. That’s not what I’m here for.
Heavy.com: Recently you signed with Shari Spencer who’s only other client is GSP. What was it about how Shari managed Georges career that attracted you to her? Do you see yourself in that mainstream limelight one day?
Frankie Edgar: I think it’s possible in the future. GSP has done very well in the Octagon and that’s helped make him marketable. I want to have that same success in the cage first. The thing that attracted me to working with Shari was not necessarily the way she’s managed Georges’s career. It was sitting down and talking to her. I realized how genuine she is and how much she really cares. It’s like night and day. What she’s doing for me, the time that she can take because she only has one other client, it’s tremendous.
Heavy.com: Last question, knowing you are a Clarion guy. Have you interacted at all with Kurt Angle? What are your thoughts on Clarion’s most famous alum?
Frankie Edgar: Mark Angle, his nephew, was a three-time All American and graduated the year I came in. I was buddies with him, but I never met Kurt. But when I was there, there were posters of him up all over the school. He’s definitely a living legend.
It’s the biggest night of the year for fans of The Ultimate Fighter, as the finals of the tenth season hit The Pearl at The Palms on Saturday, December 5th.