Frankie Edgar is the UFC lightweight champion. The diminutive lightweight ran through B.J. Penn, the man many believe to be the greatest lightweight of all time, twice in order prove he deserved the title. Then he fought the only man to defeat him to a controversial draw, in a fight many believed he won, to prove he deserves to remain champion.
But when Edgar, the Rodney Dangerfield of MMA, was just starting out, he couldn't convince the brass at Spike TV to even let him on their show, "The Ultimate Fighter," when he tried out for season 5 of the popular series.
"When I tried out, I thought I had a good chance of making it," Edgar told MMA Fight Corner presented by FiveKnuckles.com. "I made it all the way to the interview process with the Spike producers, so when I left I was definitely disappointed, but I knew I just had to keep training, keep moving forward, keep winning fights and I'd eventually get in.
"Luckily I got a call from Joe Silva a month later asking me to fight in the UFC."
That fight was supposed to be a warm up for then undefeated lightweight super-prospect and UFC golden child Tyson Griffin, but Edgar spoiled the party with his tremendous wrestling and quickness. After earning the unanimous decision against Griffin, he moved to go undefeated in 9 of his next 10 fights en route to the title, but Edgar still feels as though he's fighting for respect.
"My team supports me, my family supports me and eventually I'm going to get my respect," Edgar said. "I think every fight I'm earning more respect as I go. I think eventually everyone will see."
Part of the reason fans seem to dismiss Edgar so easily stems from his weight. Standing 5'6" Edgar naturally walks around at 160-pounds. This is a far cry from the average lightweight who walks around in excess of 170-pounds.
"I walk around at 160," Edgar said. "It's something I've been dealing with since day one. Everyone I train with is pretty much bigger than me so I'm kind of accustomed to it. It's been working for me so far, but you never know, the guys are getting better and better and the bigger they are the tougher they are. We'll just take it as it comes."
For years Edgar resisted calls for a drop to 145-pound featherweight division where he'd be able to fight other men his size, in favor of competing in the UFC where the payday's where bigger and the lights much brighter. However, since the UFC's recent creation of a featherweight and bantamweight division a drop and possible superfight with current featherweight champion Jose Aldo could both be in Edgar's future.
"It's no secret; I weigh 160, I can make 145," Edgar said. "I wrestled 141 in college. I haven't been down there in a while, but I can make it. It's good to have that option, and the opportunity to possibly fight Jose Aldo in the future. I think I can compete with anybody, I know the fans want to see it. I know as a fight fan I'd want to see it. We'll see what the future holds."
While the long-term future is yet to be written, Edgar's immediate future holds a second meeting with a man who did make the cut for The Ultimate Fighter season 5, arch-rival Gray Maynard. The two have already fought twice, with Maynard winning the first matchup and the second...