Frankie Edgar isn’t fooling himself. The 28-year-old New Jersey native knows he has his work cut out for him when he challenges UFC lightweight champion B.J. Penn at UFC 112 on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, U.A.E.
Penn’s last opponent, Diego Sanchez, mentally fortified himself for “The Prodigy” using Tony Robbins’ school of motivation. Edgar – who’s delivered some of the fastest-paced tumbles in the Octagon against the likes of Tyson Griffin, Spencer Fisher, and Sean Sherk -- has taken a pragmatic approach against one of the world’s regarded pound-for-pound fighters.
“In my eyes he's one of if not the most skilled fighter in the UFC,” Edgar told the Sherdog Radio Network's “Savage Dog Show” recently. “He could do it all. He's probably one of the most well rounded. From standup to the ground, his takedown defense is second to none. His flexibility, balance, all that stuff, he's going to be a tough nut to crack. I'm going to have my hands full for sure.”
Penn, the first non-Brazilian to win the black belt division at the World Jiu-Jitsu Championship in 2000, is as formidable a threat on his feet as he is on the canvas. And as Edgar is quick to point out, Penn’s rarely paralleled takedown defense often allows the Hawaiian-born fighter to decide where he wants to take the fight.
“I think it's just his balance, his athleticism and his flexibility I think those three things make him just a b---- to take down,” said Edgar. “A lot of guys try to sit on his leg and it ends up bad for them because they end up eating some heavy shots.”
Edgar, who’s won “Fight of the Night” honors for three of his eight UFC appearances, knows he hasn’t faced anyone with Penn’s near-perfect arsenal. In fact, when asked to find someone on his resume that at all compares with the lightweight champion, Edgar couldn't do it. Only when Jim Miller's name was brought up did Edgar agree with the comparison.
“I would say that would probably be the closest because of his wrestling ability, his striking and his submission and how offensive he is submission-wise,” Edgar said. “It's nice that I get to train with him now so it worked out for me.”
Along with Miller, Edgar is training under Ricardo Almeida and Renzo Gracie in the tri-state area. Part of the preparation also includes studying fight tape.
“I definitely watch video. I don't get too caught up in it though because I feel like that's almost psyching yourself out,” he said. “I'd rather have my team, my coaches look at it, tell me what they think and I will sit down and watch it with them, but I'm not a big video guy. I don't sit with the remote and hit rewind every 10 seconds through the video.”
Edgar’s understated prediction for the biggest fight of his career?
“It's going to be in the desert,” said Edgar, who plans to arrive in Abu Dhabi at least 10 days early to acclimate to the outdoor venue. “It's going to be hot, so we'll probably be sweating a lot. I predict a lot of sweat. How about that?”
More » More from Edgar on ‘TUF’ Rejection, ‘Jersey Shore’