The past two months have been a roller coaster for Frankie Edgar.
Even before he ended up in the cage with Brian Ortega at UFC 222, the former UFC lightweight champion had to deal with seeing a title fight opposite current featherweight king Max Holloway go up in smoke for a second time due to a Holloway injury.
So Edgar went on to fight Ortega instead and the undefeated Californian became the first fighter ever to finish “The Answer”. Ortega put Edgar away with a nasty-looking uppercut, but fortunately for Edgar he walked away with only a short medical suspension.
Still, eyebrows were raised when it was announced that Edgar had signed on for a rematch with Cub Swanson at an Atlantic City show on April 21, which seemed like a quick turnaround given how his last fight ended. Not only that, but Edgar also broke the news that his father Charlie had passed away in early April.
Appearing on The MMA Hour on Monday, Edgar was asked if he had any second thoughts about fighting in the wake of his father’s death.
“No, I kind of made my mind up,” Edgar said. “My father, he got diagnosed with cancer at Thanksgiving and was told not the best news, but you never really know what to expect. It happened pretty fast, but I knew what could have happened and I made that decision to stay fighting.”
“This is the first big loss I’ve had in my life, so it’s all kind of new to me,” Edgar continued. “Definitely the fight kind of got my mind off of it, but I was driving down to Maryland [where Edgar’s father lived] for about two weeks. I was training in the morning, driving to Maryland for a couple of hours, hang out, drive back, train again. I did that for a couple of weeks and then my dad passed, we had the wake and the funeral, so all of that definitely keeps your mind off things. But you’ve got the buzz of the fight and try to help soften that blow, but it’s just something it’s gonna take time to get over.”
Edgar’s decision was made easier by the fact that the Swanson fight was booked in his home state. A native of Toms River, Edgar was competing in New Jersey for the first time in 11 years, and while there were some distractions, overall the experience couldn’t have gone better for him.
Most significantly, he was able to bring his children to a fight for the first time.
“It just felt like I was fighting in AC, the first five fights of my career. Everybody in the crowd I knew,” Edgar said. “Running up, you’re trying to not focus on anybody in the crowd, I’m not one of those guys, I try to just focus on what I’m about to do. I couldn’t help but be like, ‘Damn, I know him, I know him, I know him.’ That was definitely a little different than my previous fights.
“It was cool though, it was everything I thought it would be. The way the crowd was responding, good performance. My kids were there, first time they were there, that’s something I’m going to remember forever.”
As an added benefit, Edgar finally got to compete in the main auditorium of Boardwalk Hall after only getting to showcase his skills in the smaller stages of the venue during his days as a high school wrestling standout.
“When I fought in Boardwalk Hall, they have different rooms, it was like the auditorium, they have different rooms. It wasn’t the big stage. I never got to compete there,” Edgar said.
“The New Jersey high school state tournament is there every year, I think since the ‘90s, and in my two years, ‘99 to 2000, when I wrestled in states, the place was getting renovated so I never got to wrestle on that big stage. So that was another plus, the fact that I got to run it back there.”
Edgar got back in the win column against Swanson, winning a clear-cut three-round unanimous decision. It was a favorable matchup for Edgar given that he could be comfortable in the knowledge that he already beat Swanson when they fought back in November 2014, but not everyone was betting on him to repeat the feat.
In reading analysis of the matchup beforehand, Edgar was disturbed by one pundit pointing out that things usually don’t turn out well for fighters getting back into the cage so quickly after a loss.
“Someone did some research and said that people that come back within a certain amount of time, only like, 15 percent win,” Edgar said. “I’m like, ‘Dude, what the f**k, I don’t want to see that right now!’ Come on, you guys are killing me.”