The UFC makes its debut in the Philippines this Saturday as Frankie Edgar and Urijah Faber will tango in the main event. While the card boasts what should be some fun fights, the five-round featherweight attraction between the two former WEC and UFC champions could very well be MMA’s version of the Thrilla in Manila.
Fight night is a term that encapsulates the evening’s combative festivities. This event, however, has the unusual distinction of airing in the early a.m. to compensate for the twelve hour time difference. One would wonder why such a big fight would be booked for this particular show, but the UFC’s aggressive push in the Asian market probably answers that question.
Counting on fans to not sleep in on a Saturday morning isn’t lost on the UFC. They’ve gone the extra promotional mile in offering to call those who enter their phone number on a special section of their website to receive a fight morning wake-up call.
This fight was on the verge of happening last year with significant build up as Faber and Edgar were tapped to be the coaches on season 19 of The Ultimate Fighter. Divisional ideologies threw a wrench into those plans as Faber didn’t want to move up to 145 lbs. while Edgar wasn’t keen on cutting down to 135 lbs.
Faber assumed, as do many, that Edgar can easily reach the bantamweight limit. Edgar, on the other hand, felt it made sense to battle at featherweight since it would have meant cutting less pounds for Faber along with his successful history in the division. UFC ultimately made the call to keep the bout at Featherweight and switched out Faber for B.J. Penn.
One year later, the tide turned when both combatants were offered a title shot at T.J. Dillashaw’s bantamweight championship. Edgar hesitantly turned down the fight because the allure of possibly fighting the infamous Connor McGregor was too enticing to pass up. Faber was put in the precarious position of being asked to fight his protégé and training partner, Dillashaw, and rejected the offer.
With fight cards needing to be made for promotional consideration and both Faber and Edgar standing firm on their decision, McGregor was granted a featherweight title shot against Jose Aldo while Dillashaw is set to square off against the man he won the bantamweight title from, Renan Barao. With Faber and Edgar’s dance cards empty and the desire for big fights looming like a green money cloud, the logical conclusion became a reality.
The combative nucleus of this bout is fascinating on a multitude of levels. Frankie Edgar has a slight speed advantage while Urijah Faber barely edges out in the strength department. The rest of their strengths over the other are also minuscule as Edgar’s crisp boxing and sound wrestling will have plenty of opposition dealing with Faber’s superb grappling and efficient kickboxing.
Edgar and Faber are two of the most conditioned athletes you will ever find and they are used to pushing the pace. They’ve also been in their share of five round wars so it is difficult to say that one fighter is more durable than the other.
The only category left to judge on is experience. Faber was at one time the best featherweight in the world while Edgar once ruled the lightweight class. Realistically, both fighters are respectively ranked #1 in their current divisions, but haven’t been able to cross the championship finish line as of late.
In the UFC, Edgar has won the big one and successfully defended the title while coming back from the jaws of defeat. Ever since Faber lost the WEC title in 2008, the only time he has lost is when there was a title on the line. There is no belt up for grabs in this affair, but it could be argued that a win in this dream match-up equals the cache of obtaining a championship.
This is a close fight in every area, but a small gap exists in the speed and boxing category. Faber has been caught with some big shots in his career, and while Edgar isn’t a knockout puncher, he should be able to find enough openings on the feet while using his footwork to edge out a hard fought and entertaining decision.
The Pick: Frankie Edger via unanimous decision