Even though it is a couple weeks late, I got to catch up with one of the few who experienced “validation” at UFC 78: “Validation,” Frank “The Answer” Edgar. This soft-spoken fighter has been making quite the splash in the UFC lightweight division, as he has enjoyed three victories since his UFC debut in February of this year. His most recent victory was a dominating unanimous decision against Spencer “The King” Fisher at UFC 78 in Newark, New Jersey, just down the road from Frank’s hometown. In our talk, Frank and I touched on his fight with Spencer Fisher, his status in the UFC, and his thoughts on what is next for his career.
Paul Balsom: First of all, congrats on your win at UFC 78. How did it feel to fight in front of the hometown crowd?
Frank Edgar: It was great, man. The crowd was unbelievable. It’s something you dream about growing up, to fight in front of a crowd like that in your hometown.
PB: You mentioned before your fight that you didn’t think it mattered whether you fought in front of your hometown crowd, as opposed to anywhere else. Did you change your mind once you stepped into the cage and everyone in the place was chanting your name?
FE: No, it was still the same thing. I had the same mental preparation for it and everything. But you can’t help but notice the crowd. I think it energized me more than anything.
PB: Did the fight go as you thought it would? Did you have any expectations for the fight going in?
FE: I study a little bit of video. I usually give it to my teammates and have them look at it a little more. I don’t like analyzing it too much. Maybe I’ll watch video a couple times. I try to go into a fight expecting that anything can happen, because in all honestly, that’s the way to goes, anything can happen. When I got in there, the takedowns came pretty easy, so I kind of just stuck with that throughout the fight.
PB: Were you surprised that you were able to take him down so easily?
FE: I knew that I was definitely going to go in there and be able take him down, but I guess I was a little surprised that it came that easy.
PB: Spencer Fisher has the reputation of being a pretty powerful stand up fighter. Was standing and trading with him something that you weren’t really interesting in doing?
FE: You have to be willing to do whatever, because like I said, anything can happen in there. To be honest with you, if he stuffed all my takedowns, I would’ve been forced to stand with him. So, you can’t go in there just thinking, “I’m just going to take him down.”
PB: Were you finding any difficulty passing his guard? It seemed like, on several, occasions, that you would get to half guard, and then he would swing it back around on you into full.
FE: Yeah. He was very good about keeping me in his guard. Every time I passed, I would get to half, like you said, but he would recover well and put me back in full. It didn’t really stop me from being able to continue to hit him from on top, even in his guard.
PB: Many people consider Spencer to be among the top in the UFC lightweight division. After this win, where do you see yourself stacking up with the rest of the fighters in the division?
FE: I don’t really follow the ranking orders or anything. I’d have to consider myself as one of the guys on their way up.
PB: Has anybody from Zuffa talked with you since the fight? Have you received any feedback from them about what’s next for you?
FE: No, they haven’t mentioned anything to me yet. I’m kind of just riding this one out for a little bit, and we’ll see if they contact me. If they don’t contact me soon enough, I guess I’ll contact them.
PB: Who would you like to fight next?
FE: There’s no one in particular I want to fight. Whoever they want me to fight is fine with me. There are so many good guys in the weight class that you can’t even think about who you want to fight because it could be anybody.
PB: There are two pretty big fights coming up in your weight class, those being Penn vs. Stevenson and Huerta vs. Guida. Could you see yourself fighting a winner from either one of those fights, and do you think you would match up well with them?
FE: I’m sure that’s a possibility. Those are four really tough guys in the weight class. I don’t know how I’d match up with any one of those guys. I guess I’ll find out really quick when I get inside the cage with them.
PB: Do you like to take time off after a fight, or do you like to jump right back into the gym?
FE: I felt good after this fight. My body felt fine, so I was able to jump right back in. My buddy and training partner Chris Ligouri is fighting soon, so I was back in there Monday rolling around with him and trying to help him out.
PB: You trained in several different places getting ready for this last fight. Do you feel like it worked well for you, and is that something that you would like to keep doing?
FE: Yeah, that’s something I’ve been doing for pretty much my whole career. I definitely like to mix it up. I like working with a bunch of different workout partners. If you go to other places, you can train with people that have different looks and ideas. So, I like what I’ve been doing.
PB: It’s pretty fair to say that with a couple more wins, you could be fighting for the lightweight title in the UFC. Is that something that motivates you?
FE: Absolutely. Just money motivates me on its own, but if I keep winning I know the title is something I could eventually reach, and of course that motivates any fighter.
PB: Are you somebody who is motivated by competition first, and the money and title come second to that, or is it the other way around?
FE: I’m pretty much a self-motivated guy, myself. I know nobody likes to lose, but I hate to lose. I’m willing to do pretty much whatever it takes to win once I get in there. I’m a pretty competitive guy.
PB: If a year ago, I told you that you’d be on ESPN, among the top of the UFC lightweight division as an undefeated fighter, and you would have wins over the big name fighters you’ve beaten, how do you think you would have responded?
FE: (Laughs) To be perfectly honest with you, I don’t know if I would’ve believed you. I’ve always known I’ve had this ability, and obviously I was confident. I really didn’t expect to make a career out of it or anything. But I’m having a great time, and I’m going to keep on fighting.
PB: Is there anyone you would like to thank or shout-out to?
FE: Just my friends, training partners, and thanks to the fans.
PB: Good luck in your career and we definitely look forward to catching up with you before your next fight.
FE: Yeah, absolutely. Sure thing. Thanks for the call.