UFC 200 is still three months away, but Frankie Edgar and Jose Aldo are already engaging in some verbal sparring. The two fighters will face off for the interim featherweight title on July 9 in Las Vegas in what could prove to be the biggest pay-per-view in MMA history.
Edgar and Aldo are the top contenders in the 145-pound division, and both were hoping to challenge title-holder Conor McGregor. But the champ will instead face Nate Diaz at 170 pounds in a rematch of the UFC 196 main event, and the winner of Edgar vs. Aldo will be guaranteed a fight with McGregor at some point.
The UFC 200 fight is a rematch from the main event of UFC 156, which saw then-featherweight champion Aldo defeat Edgar by unanimous decision on Feb. 2, 2013. The fight was scored 49-46, 49-46, 48-47, though it appeared that Edgar got the better of Aldo in the final two rounds. In recent talks with reporters, Aldo adamantly dispelled the notion that Edgar could have been named the winner.
"Are you kidding me? Are you kidding me? No way," Aldo said, via MMA Fighting. "I haven't watched it anymore because I know I easily won that. I won that only with my left arm. I don't know where he saw that. You can say he won the fifth round and that's it, but I won the other four. I won, no doubt."
The damage that could be seen on the fighters’ bodies indicated that Aldo won the fight, and he landed more significant strikes throughout the five rounds, via FightMetric. But a closer look at the numbers shows why Edgar thought he did enough to win. Edgar landed more strikes in each of the final three rounds, as well as a takedown in the fourth round, while Aldo didn’t take Edgar down once.
“I outstruck him in (rounds) three, four and five. I landed more takedowns throughout the fight. It was a close fight, but I thought I won," Edgar told International Business Times in a phone interview. "For him to say he won easily, I know he did get hit in the head recently pretty good so I don’t know if maybe that’s something he’s dealing with.
“We know he doesn’t fight injured so that’s a bunch of horses***. He’s pulled out of a ton of fights so I doubt that’s true.”
Before losing the belt to McGregor in just 13 seconds at UFC 194, Aldo had been undefeated for a decade. He was UFC’s only 145-pound champion, successfully defending the belt seven times. He did so on his terms, pulling out of multiple fights, most notably his first scheduled fight with McGregor on July 11 of last year because of a broken rib.
Aldo’s confidence is understandable, considering he’s been the best fighter in the history of the UFC featherweight division. But a lot has changed since he defeated Edgar more than three years ago. Not only did McGregor surpass him as the division’s biggest name, but Edgar has won five consecutive fights.
Edgar’s loss to Aldo was his first fight after leaving the lightweight division, where he had held the belt from April 2010 until February 2012. Aldo, however, doesn’t think their upcoming fight will be any more difficult, claiming he doesn’t see any “evolution” in Edgar.
“As far as me not evolving, I possibly haven’t lost a round since me and him fought,” Edgar said. “For him, he’s been in some barn burners since then so I think he’s just talking it up a little bit.”
The betting odds indicate that the gambling public has much more faith in Edgar this time around. Days before UFC 156, Aldo was a -220 favorite. Ahead of their rematch at UFC 200, Aldo is barely favored, and the fight is almost considered to be a tossup. Aldo has -125 odds, while Edgar has -105 odds, via Bovada.lv.
In his last five fights, Edgar has two wins by knockout and one by submission. In his two unanimous decision victories, five of six judges awarded him every round. His most recent victory was a first-round knockout of Chad Mendes on Dec. 11, while Aldo needed five rounds and a judges’ decision to beat Mendes on Oct. 25, 2014 in what was his last win.
In between beating Edgar and Mendes, Aldo got a fourth-round knockout of Chan Sun Jung and a unanimous decision win over Ricardo Lamas. It took just one punch for McGregor to beat Aldo in December, and Edgar is looking to end the fight with Aldo early, as well.
“I think I’m a nightmare for anybody," Edgar said. "I do everything well. I feel like I can go out there and stand up with the best guys that stand up. I can wrestle with the best wrestlers and roll around with the best jiu-jitsu guys. I think I’m pretty well-rounded and I match up pretty good with him in that aspect. He has to worry about the takedowns, and he also has to worry about my hands.
“I believe I have the skills and I have the momentum going into this fight, and I think I am going to get that knockout."