Those who counted out Frankie Edgar once again have egg on their faces.
The former Ultimate Fighting Championship lightweight titleholder and featherweight contender put down roots at 135 pounds, as he eked out a contentious split decision over Pedro Munhoz in the UFC on ESPN 15 headliner on Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. Judges Derek Cleary and Eric Colon scored it 48-47 for Edgar, while Sal D’Amato saw it 49-46 for Munhoz.
“The Answer” adapted well to his new surroundings. Edgar circled on the perimeter, punched effectively in combination and accounted for the only two completed takedowns of the 25-minute affair. However, Munhoz landed the more telling blows and did so with greater efficiency, particularly in the third, fourth and fifth rounds. Still, his merciless pressure, jackhammer jab and damaging leg kicks could neither distance him enough from Edgar nor prevent his second consecutive defeat.
In the aftermath of UFC on ESPN 15 “Munhoz vs. Edgar,” here are four matches that ought to be made:
Frankie Edgar vs. Jimmie Rivera: Edgar turns 39 in two months, so the jury remains out on whether he can become a viable contender in a third UFC weight class. However, the narrow victory over Munhoz temporarily alleviated some of the concerns surrounding the Toms River, New Jersey, native’s deteriorating durability and stopped the figurative bleeding that resulted from back-to-back losses to Max Holloway and Chan Sung Jung at 145 pounds. Edgar has now spent nearly eight competitive hours inside the Octagon, and though no amount of effort can roll back the miles on the odometer, he gives matchmakers another intriguing piece with which to play in the bantamweight division. Rivera last appeared at UFC on ESPN 13, where he laid claim to a unanimous verdict over Cody Stamann on July 15.
Mike Rodriguez vs. Dustin Jacoby-Justin Ledet winner: Shoved into the co-main event spotlight by Ovince St. Preux’s positive COVID-19 test, Rodriguez took the opportunity to introduce his brand of violence to a wider audience. The Lauzon MMA rep cut down Marcin Prachnio with a standing elbow strike and follow-up punches in the first round of their light heavyweight showcase. Prachnio succumbed to blows 2:17 into Round 1. While Rodriguez appears to have a clear ceiling at 205 pounds, his combination of power and length—his wingspan covers 82.5 inches—provide him with paths to victory against many lower- and middle-tier light heavyweights. Jacoby and Ledet will square off at UFC Fight Night 182 on Oct. 31.
Joe Solecki vs. Roosevelt Roberts-Matt Frevola winner: Solecki extended his run of consecutive victories to five and continued to establish his foothold in the lightweight division, as he dismissed the former Legacy Fighting Alliance champion Austin Hubbard with a first-round rear-naked choke. Submitted for just the second time in his professional career, Hubbard capitulated 3:51 into Round 1. Solecki lured the Elevation Fight Team export into the clinch, climbed to the back with a standing body triangle and went to work on the choke. After an extended struggle along the fence, the John Salter protégé snaked his arms around the neck, tightened his squeeze and forced the tap. Roberts will collide with Frevola at UFC Fight Night 177 on Sept. 12.
Daniel Rodriguez vs. Mike Perry: Rodriguez called upon his resolve and recuperative powers to improve to 3-0 in the UFC, as he weathered a near-finish to stop Dwight Grant with punches in the first round of their welterweight barnburner. Grant bowed out 2:24 into Round 1. Rodriguez ran into a right hand from the American Kickboxing Academy standout during one of their initial exchanges and withstood a hellacious amount of punishment in the moments that followed. However, the Californian recovered, returned to his feet and brought down Grant with a clubbing left hook along the fence before sealing a deal with a compact right hand to the side of the head. Rodriguez has rattled off nine straight wins, seven of them finishes. Perry last fought at UFC on ESPN 12, where he was awarded a unanimous verdict over Mickey Gall on June 27.
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