Edgar anxious for rematch after being bloodied in UFC lightweight title loss to Henderson
DENVER - The deep cut on the bridge of Frankie Edgar's nose has long since healed, along with a swollen left eye that turned a nasty shade of purple.
There's another wound, though, that just won't mend — the blow to his pride from losing his lightweight title to Benson "Smooth" Henderson in a UFC bout last February.
Edgar, the former UFC champion.
That's something he just can't get used to. Even hearing those words gnaws at him.
Immediately after that loss, Edgar turned lobbyist, suggesting he deserved a rematch after such a tightly contested fight.
Fair was only fair.
For nearly two years, Edgar was the king at 155 pounds and granted instant rematches to those he had beaten. He did so for B.J. Penn, the fighter he took the title from in 2010, and again for Gray Maynard after a close decision.
And so now it will be for Edgar, who faces Henderson at UFC 150 in Denver on Aug. 11.
"Got to go out there and right the wrong," Edgar said, "and get my belt back."
For the next two months, Edgar vowed to lock the door on his gym in New Jersey, and just train — at least twice a day, probably more.
Maybe watch segments of that bout, too, simply to see what went wrong in a match he actually thought he won, despite blood trickling down his nose and his eye swelling shut. Edgar has seen the footage only three times, which was more than enough to tell him he needs to be crisper on his punches to win back his title from Henderson.
"I've turned the page on that fight," the 30-year-old Edgar said. "I've got my rematch, got what I wanted. I'm pumped. We'll make the adjustments."
Like a host of UFC fighters, Edgar got a late start in mixed martial arts and didn't really dedicate himself to the sport until seven years ago. He worked as a plumber to make ends meet before his career took off.
Once it did, Edgar rapidly moved through the ranks as the fighter known as "The Answer," knocking off some of the division's top names.
Now, he's hit his first real road block.
His title is gone, which provides all the motivation he needs.
"You remember your losses more than your wins," said Edgar, who also helps out with the wrestling team at Rutgers University. "When they announce you, it's 'former UFC champion' and that stings. But you can't really dwell on a loss too much. You need to learn from it, move on and improve.
"He's a very good fighter."
A compliment? Before a title fight?
That's the thing — these two have a healthy dose of respect for one another. There's no bad blood or acrimony. They have no simmering feud with each other, unlike the last UFC fight that was at the Pepsi Center last September when Jon Jones retained his light heavyweight belt by submitting Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, who accused Jones of spying on his camp to steal secrets.
Edgar is rather quiet and a very humble family man. But once he steps into the ring, he's all business and absorbs punishment like few others.
Henderson has an outgoing and charismatic personality. When he's not in the ring, he might be found reading a book at a local Starbucks.
He only got into the sport "on a whim." He was coaching at his alma mater, Dana College in Nebraska, when he decided to take a fight to see how he would fare.
Turns out, pretty well.
A southpaw with a penchant for wrestling, Henderson has won four straight fights. He's looking forward to his first title defence, even if it's against an opponent he knows so well.
"I've definitely got a good test in Frank," said Henderson, who trains out of the MMA Lab in Glendale, Ariz. "He's a tough cookie to crack and even tougher in rematches. He will really be at the top of his game."
In the first meeting, Edgar took a powerful "up-kick" from Henderson in the second round that wobbled him and opened up the cut on his nose. But Edgar kept on attacking and led to what some believed was a controversial decision.
"I thought I won pretty well," Henderson said. "The judges saw it the same way I saw it, I suppose."
No matter now — it's on to the rematch.
"More fireworks," Henderson said. "The first fight lived up to the hype and it was a pretty action-packed affair. I think it's going to be pretty much the same.
"I'll be prepared for everything and do whatever it takes to have my hand raised at the end."