Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Lend me your ear. Fledgling UFC fighter Frankie Edgar never gives up

By: Neil Davidson

(CP) - Frankie (The Answer) Edgar has sacrificed a piece of his ear to his sport, so giving up wasn't an option in his UFC debut last month in Las Vegas.

As the clock wound down on their lightweight bout at UFC 67, Tyson Griffin had Edgar on the ground in a painful leg hold. Edgar, a 25-year-old mixed martial arts fighter from Toms River, N.J., calmly looked up at the clock on one of the big screens at the Mandalay Bay Event Center and figured he could endure the pain a little longer.

"There was like 45 seconds left when he first put it (the hold) on. At that point I just couldn't tap. There was no way," Edgar told The Canadian Press in an interview.

Edgar held out to win a unanimous decision in an action-packed fight, improving his record to 6-0.

While he felt the pain of the submission attempt the next day, at least Edgar escaped with all his body parts. That's not what happened last time out against Jim Miller.

A former collegiate wrestler, the five-foot-six Edgar has a cauliflower ear - which was pruned slightly during the November 2006 bout.

"A piece of it got kicked off," Edgar explained matter-of-factly.

No problem. "I got it glued shut," he added.

And so today, "it just looks like any other cauliflower ear."

In beating Griffin, Tyson was rewarded with the fight of the night bonus - not bad considering the card featured middleweight champion Anderson Silva, Croatian heavyweight sensation Mirko (Cro Cop) Filipovic and light-heavyweight Quinton (Rampage) Jackson.

"That fight was awesome. That was the fight of the night. Amazing fight," UFC president Dana White said of the Edgar-Griffin matchup. "Everybody knows how tough Tyson Griffin is."

Even more amazing is the fact that Edgar didn't take up mixed martial arts until after graduation in May 2005.

Edgar wrestled at Clarion University in Pennsylvania (alma mater to former Olympic wrestling champion and pro wrestler Kurt Angle) and looked to MMA after getting his BA in political science as a way to keep competing.

"Working out isn't a chore to me, it's just something I do. And MMA just allows me to do it at a greater level."

Edgar had no jiu-jitsu or boxing experience. But he proved to be a quick study, winning his first five fights before entering the UFC.

"I have a lot more to learn. I've got a lot better but I still feel I have a lot more room to grow."

Edgar tried out for Season 5 of The Ultimate Fighter reality TV show, which airs next month. He survived the first few rounds of the auditions in Hollywood, Fla., and even met the show's producers, but failed to make the final grade.

A low-key type, Edgar perhaps did not offer the kind of flamboyance outside the ring that show producers seem to like.

"It's TV. Drama sells audiences, I guess," Edgar said. "Maybe, I'm not what they're looking for."

Edgar likes fighting. But he's still getting used to chatting about it with the media.

"I know it's part of it, so you've got to do it. But I'm not a guy who likes to really talk that much, to tell you the truth. But I understand it's something I have to do, something I have to work on actually."

While Edgar did not crack the cast of The Ultimate Fighter, he clearly made an impression. UFC matchmaker Joe Silva called his manager a couple of weeks later and offered the fight with Griffin, a hard-nosed fighter whose 8-0 record included a 2005 win over highly touted Urijah Faber.

Edgar only had four weeks to prepare, but wasn't about to say no.

"You can't pass up an opportunity like that."

Conditioning was not a problem. Edgar looks after himself. He coaches wrestling at his old high school as well as a local wrestling club in Jackson, N.J., and helps his teammates at the Rhino Fight Team at a gym in nearby Bricktown.

"It's not like I really have any down time," he said.

Edgar is back training - and working for his dad, a commercial plumbing contractor and "real flexible" boss. His goal is to train and fight full time, but he's not there yet.

Still, he has a three-fight deal with the UFC and expects to fight again in June.

Down the line, the UFC-owned World Extreme Cagefighting circuit could be a possible destination. Edgar walks around at the 155-pound lightweight limit and WEC offers a 145-pound featherweight division that could be an attractive alternative.


Notes: The UFC should get an interesting measure of its popularity April 21 when it offers same-day coverage of UFC 71: Worlds Collide from Manchester, England, on Spike TV rather than its traditional pay-per-view option. The English card features Mirko (Cro Cop) Filipovic, former heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski, Forrest Griffin and Edmonton's Victor Valimaki ... Justin McCully is filling in for the injured Frank Mir and will face Antoni Hardonk on the April 5 Ultimate Fight Night show on Spike TV ... UFC heavyweight fighter Gilbert Aldana is presumed to have drowned after a boating accident Sunday in Arizona. He was 29, according to the UFC website. Local reports say he had been water-skiing and apparently drowned trying to retrieve a shirt that had fallen out of the boat he was in. The Arizona Republic cited sources identifying Aldana as the victim although investigators said they would not confirm identity until a body was recovered. Aldana was known as El Peligroso - The Dangerous One. His MMA record was 6-2 with UFC losses to Cheick Kongo at UFC 61 and Paul Buentello at UFC 57.


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