Future Hall of Famer, Frankie ‘The Answer’ Edgar looks firmly at home in new bantamweight waters, as he did at his once lightweight stomping ground and featherweight tenure. A much-speculated decision to move to 135-pounds, the often undersized, Edgar – weathered a galeforce storm from perennial contender, Pedro Munhoz – to counter his way to a split-decision triumph.
The Toms River native didn’t miss a step in his main-event, instant bantamweight classic with Munhoz. Despite requiring transportation to a medical facility after the event following a slew of calf kick offence from Munhoz, Edgar detailed blueprints for a bantamweight run – as he attempts to earn Octagon gold one last time. Edgar’s immediate plans for bantamweight gold must be put on immediate hold, however.
Following Saturday night’s event, UFC president, Dana White seems to have finally cemented longtime contender, Aljamain Sterling’s status as the next title challenger, ahead of a grudge match with recently minted titleholder, Petr Yan.
Nevertheless, there are some really interesting clashes on the horizon for both victor, Edgar, and the ever-present, Munhoz. Join me below as I play bantamweight matchmaker.
Frankie Edgar vs. Dominick Cruz:
This one’s pretty intriguing. Former two-time UFC bantamweight best, Cruz was on commentary duty on Saturday alongside, Jon Anik, a position we’ve become accustomed to in recent times. Despite the fact Cruz seems to featute on the opposite side of the Octagon fence more than not, his most recent outing came on short-notice against former titleholder, Henry Cejudo in May.
The name value that comes with Cruz is undeniable, however. One of the most recognisable names in the sport’s history, one of the best bantamweights of all time, and like Edgar – a true veteran of mixed martial arts.
Edgar displayed some real precise counters opposite Munhoz, and somehow – his striking appeared even quicker than before at 145-pounds. Cruz has always had some of the best lateral movement in the UFC – and like Edgar, can wrestle and scramble with the best of them. This one’s perfect for a ‘Fight Night’ headliner in the future.
Frankie Edgar vs. T.J. Dillashaw:
Granted, we’ll be forced to wait until next January at the very least for this one. Another former two-time division kingpin, Dillashaw is currently serving a two year USADA suspension, after testing positive for EPO in his flyweight division bow at UFC Fight Night Brooklyn in January last year, versus the aforenoted Cejudo.
The timeline may suit both, however. Edgar took tremendous punishment to his left calf, and we’re mere days away from September. A victory for the Ricardo Almeida and Mark Henry student would more than likely insert him into the ever-evolving title picture at 135-pounds, and if Dillashaw emerges with a win, he’ll likely earn himself another championship challenge.
Like, Cruz – Dillashaw is a stalwart at bantamweight and a hugely recognisable figure. A test against someone of Edgar’s ilk would grant the Bang Muay Thai student a decent test in his first Octagon appearance in two years – and would allow Edgar the chance to move closer to a title opportunity against an all-time division great.
Pedro Munhoz vs. Jimmie Rivera II:
Following a string of three defeats in his last four – Tiger Schulmann mainstay, Jimmie ‘El Terror’ Rivera has bounced back to the win column. On paper, it’s not ideal form for the ever-present challenger, but just look at his competition. Prior to his win over Cody Stamann at a UFC ‘Fight Island’ event in July – he had dropped a back-and-forth to current titleholder, Petr Yan, a decision to upcoming title challenger, Aljamain Sterling, and a stunning head-kick knockout to former WSOF champion, and division number-one contender, Marlon Moraes. Quite the talented trio.
Like Rivera, Munhoz seems to have enough predigree which will see him battle within the top-ten of the division at the very least for the considerable future. Sure, Munhoz has now dropped two straight, but Saturday’s defeat to Edgar was very competitive, and his defeat to the aforementioned Sterling last summer – was full of decent moments for him.
Munhoz is likely to drop from his #5 perch, but not dramatically down the bantamweight pile, and a matchup with the #7 seeded Rivera makes quite a lot of logic given both current form, rankings, and stylistically, it’s quite an intriguing pairing. Not to mention – these two have traded leather before. Back in November of 2015 at UFC Fight Night São Paulo Rivera escaped enemy territory with a split judging triumph. Five years later – both have made some significant strides toward the top-five.