Frankie Edgar finds himself in unfamiliar territory having been finished in three of his past four fights.
Known for his heart and durability, Edgar (24-10-1 MMA, 18-10-1 UFC) didn’t experienced his first stoppage loss until 13 years into his professional MMA career. But as of late, the 40-year-old former UFC lightweight champion has been on the wrong end of a few brutal finishes that beg questions about his fighting future.
A consummate professional, Edgar made his successful bantamweight debut in August 2020 when he outlasted Pedro Munhoz. He was then knocked out just 28 seconds into his fight with Cory Sandhagen followed by a third-round knockout loss to Marlon Vera this past Saturday at UFC 268, a fight that was competitive up to that point.
So what’s next for Edgar? Well, for once, he doesn’t have the answer.
“Everybody’s going to bring up the f*cking retirement and this and that, and I’m not gonna answer it because I don’t know what it is honestly,” Edgar said on his “Champ and the Tramp” podcast. “I just want to know when I do retire, I’m never coming back. I’m not ready for that yet. I’m not ready to make that decision yet.
“But this is probably the first time after a fight where I’m not thinking about my next fight. I’m not thinking about getting back in the gym. I know I’m never gonna stop training no matter what I decide, and I will be back in the gym soon just because I’m addicted to that. But I’m not thinking of it, and this is the first time probably in my fight career that that’s happened.”
Two of the three judges had his fight with Vera tied at one round a piece heading into Round 3, whereas the third judge had him up 2-0. So the idea of walking away is a little tough for Edgar, who still thinks he can compete with the division’s elite.
“I know I’ve got a lot left to give this sport in many ways,” Edgar said. “Like, my spirit doesn’t want to be done, that’s for sure. I feel like I can still do this at a high level. I was doing that at a high level two nights ago and got caught with a good shot. But I don’t like being on this end, and it seems like I’m here often as of late.
“So I’m being real about it, but I’m not gonna make a decision. I don’t know if I’ll ever be the guy that goes out and f*cking announces he’s retiring. I don’t know if I could do that. I don’t know if I’ll be the guy a year from now that’s gonna be like, I want to fight. So I’m just not gonna make any f*cking announcement.”
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Edgar, the UFC record holder for most time spent inside the octagon, revealed that he recently underwent hip replacement surgery, which didn’t have an effect on his performance.
“I never really made it public, but seven months ago I got my hip replaced,” Edgar said. “That’s an accomplishment in itself, coming back from that. That’s something I wanted to prove to myself. A lot of people think you get something like that, it’s the end of something and not only did I do it, I f*cking did it quickly. I felt amazing. My hip f*cking felt amazing.”
Before Edgar decides what’s next, he wants to take care of a lingering back injury, which he plans on doing regardless of whether or not he fights again.
“I got some nerve issues in my back,” Edgar said. “I had back surgery when I was 18, so it’s on the other side now. … This was over four years ago.”
He continued, “I can’t say it was a mistake (not taking care of his back before), I just f*cking fought. I wrestled in college, I fought for 20 f*cking years, so it did its job. But I need to get that taken care of. Regardless of fighting or not, it’s f*cking with my life.”
Winning a UFC title and competing across three different weight classes should make Edgar a future Hall of Famer. But having lost five of his past seven, is Edgar risking tarnishing his legacy? He doesn’t think so.
“What is legacy?” Edgar said. “It’s what other people talk about. I’ve got to be one with myself, I’ve got to be straight up with myself. Like I said, I really don’t know. I’m not thinking about fighting right now. I’m not talking about fighting. That’s not on the horizon at least in the near future right now. I’ve got to make sure I’m 100 percent OK with that when I do make that decision.
“I don’t know what I want my legacy to be. I go out there, and I f*cking put it on the line, I put my heart into everything. I f*cking prepare 100 percent of the way … but is that legacy? If that’s what I’m defined by, say I go out there again and I’m gonna put my f*cking heart on the line again, and I lose again. I’m tarnishing my legacy? How am I tarnishing that?”
Marlon Vera def. Frankie Edgar at UFC 268: Best photos
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