Is This The Final Answer?

(Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

In 2007 the MMA world did not know what we were going to get when Frankie “The Answer” Edgar debuted against Tyson Griffin. At that time Edgar was pretty much a wrestler who was able to outlast Griffin which shocked the MMA community since the UFC was billing Griffin at that time as the next big thing in the Lightweight Division. Fast forward 3 years later and switching camps from Rhino over to Ricard Almeida BJJ, Edgar was now the hot commodity and in line for a title shot against BJ Penn. After winning a close battle in Abu Dhabi, Edgar would defend his belt again against BJ at the Boston Garden and put a stamp on his first win, by outclassing BJ for 5 rounds. After winning the belt Edgar would go on to defend the belt 4 more times with one of the best trilogy matches in UFC history against Gray Maynard, only to lose his belt in Japan against Benson Henderson. MMA fans don’t need a history lesson when it comes to Frankie, anyone who has followed the sport has watched him forever. With all of his records he is headed as a first ballot Hall Of Famer for the UFC, but at 39 years old and all of his past wars that put the UFC on the map, Father Time might be cashing in on “The Answer”

One of the most remarkable stats that Frankie had was that throughout all of his wars and fights, he was never knocked out or submitted. That all changed in 2018 when Frankie took on the rising star Brian Ortega where Frankie was knocked out by an elbow towards the end of the first round. The old saying goes “once you’re knocked out once, it gets a little bit easier each time.” At 37 years old at that point, the public wondered If Frankie had anything left to offer at the 145lb weight division, or even anything left to offer MMA at all. In true Jersey form, Frankie dusted himself off and took a fight with Cub Swanson one month later coming out with a decision win and ended 2018 on a high note. With his win over Cub, and Brian Ortega being torn apart by the champion Max Holloway, it was Edgar’s chance to try for another shot at the 145lb belt losing to Max by a hard fought decision. The talks of Frankie dropping to 135lbs went from rumor to fruition, the years of Mark Henry talking Frankie into dropping finally worked, but as expected Frankie took a fight with The Korean Zombie Chan Sung Jung on short notice. This was a matchup fans were looking forward to since the match had fallen through just months before. The two began trading punches and Jung got the upper hand by knocking Frankie down with a hook and ground and pounded until the match was over. For those keeping score at home, that was the second time in his career Frankie was finished by strikes. At this time people really began to question if there was anything left in the tank for Frankie,

In August of 2020 Frankie was set to have his 135lb debut against Pedro Munhoz and he came out victorious in a hard fought decision win, it looked like Frankie had quieted his doubters for the moment and was beginning to take one last charge to win a belt in the UFC after signing what will probably be his last multi fight contract in July of 2020. The stage was not going to be set against Cory Sandhagen who has torn apart the 135 division with impressive knockout skills. The winner of this fight most likely was going to be the one to challenge either the Champion Peter Yan or Aljamain Sterling.

When Frankie made his iconic run to the Octagon the look of focus and determination was on his face and Sandhagen looked like he was ready for war. The engaged in the center of the Octagon and in a mere 28 seconds the gross sound of Sandhagen’s knee connecting with Frankie’s jaw echoed throughout the empty arena at the Apex. It was one of the most impressive flying knees ever thrown, even better than the flying knee that Jorge Masvidal threw. Watching frankie slowly fall and his legs stiffen up was a heart shattering moment for his fans, and a big moment of worry for the announcers calling the fight. Frankie was motionless, toes curled and unresponsive, Daniel Cormier couldn’t help but constantly say that “I really hope that Frankie is OK after that.” Thankfully Frankie was able to get up and stand in the center of the Octagon for them to announce Sandhagen as the winner. With the look of anger and embarrassment Frankie gave Cory a quick hug and walked off.

We are all fans of the sport and we all know that things like this happen, “It’s just part of the sport.” A knockout like that hits different when it’s a fighter who has always been known as someone who can take punishment and keep moving forward, seeing something like that makes you realize the end is really near. We all know how tough Edgar is and his never quit attitude is something that every fighter should have, but Frankie is the last of a dying breed of fighters. For 14 years he has been going to war with literally the best the UFC can throw at him, and it was only a matter of time before that button was going to be pushed. Knowing how tough he(Frankie) is, I don’t think he’s going to go out on a loss like this, but the question really is when is enough finally enough? The 135lb division is filled with fighters who can hit as hard if not harder than Sandhagen, does Frankie really want to risk something like this happening again? After what we have seen recently with Spencer “The King” Fisher, going to war in that cage and taking devastating head shots does not end well. Frankie has been very fortunate that after all his wars in the early days he is still able to train and fight, but at 39 years old being knocked out in 2018, 2019 and now here in 2021, it just doesn’t make the risk worth the reward. Unfortunately, unless fighters get hurt and he gets another win, he won’t be getting a title shot in this division with the talent pool they have there. So, is it really worth the paychecks to risk getting knocked out again, what is the point? The man has nothing left to prove to anyone, he’s a former champion who is going into the UFC Hall of Fame, but with these recent knockouts, the big fear is Frankie will become to new BJ Penn, to where the casual fan only remembers Frankie for being the guy who gets devastatingly knocked out, and not for the absolute warrior who gave us so many great memories.

This article is difficult for me to write seeing as I’m from the same town as Frankie and have been one of his biggest supporters since his very first fight in the UFC. Seeing what he put his body through to be a champion is the exact blue print for these fighters, THAT is how you have to be if you want to be a successful MMA fighter it’s a grind that never ends. At 39 years old, I really hope that Frankie just has one more fight to try get that loss off his record and then rides off into the sunset. He runs a successful UFC Gym in New Brunswick NJ, he is a coach at Elite Wrestling which is the top wrestling school in New Jersey and I think he will be better suited at this point of his life to coaching kids and fighters. If this is the end for Frankie, this writer would like to thank you for the years you gave us in this octagon and the memorable fights we were blessed with. Something tells me this knockout is going to be something that pisses him off to the point where he just has to get it off his record as his last fight. I don’t agree with him wanting to fight again, but like most champions at the end of their road, he doesn’t want to end on a knockout highlight reel that we will be seeing for years to come and possibly will be Knockout of the year.


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