Frank Edgar is one of the most exciting up and coming lightweight fighters in all of mixed martial arts. Edgar burst onto the MMA scene seemingly out of nowhere and quickly racked up notable wins over rising lightweight star Tyson Griffin and widely respected veteran Spencer Fisher. Undefeated at 8-0, the former collegiate division I freestyle all-American wrester has solidified his place as a contender in the lightweight division.
Edgar recently took time off from training to sit down with MMAFightline.com to discuss a variety of topics including his most recent victory over Spencer Fisher, his thoughts on the lightweight division, the upcoming title fight between BJ Penn and Joe Stevenson, and his future in the sport.
MMAFightline.com: First of all, let me congratulate you on your win against Spencer Fisher. Did the fight go as you expected?
Frank Edgar: I didn’t know exactly how it was going to go. I mean, I knew I wanted to take him down and I figured that if he stuffed a couple of take downs I’d have to end up striking with him, but the take downs were just coming pretty nice, you know. I was able to get him down and stay busy on top so it worked out.
MMAFightline.com: Absolutely. You really seemed to control this fight from start to finish and had Fisher in some very compromising positions, though to his credit he defended very well and you weren’t able to catch him in a submission. Were you at all disappointed that you weren’t able to finish that fight?
Frank Edgar: You know, I didn’t feel comfortable enough to give up position. He defended well, he did everything that he had to do to stop me. I wasn’t going to take any big risks and get sloppy. I wanted to keep safe.
MMAFightline.com: Despite your success in the octagon your still relatively unknown to the casual UFC fan. Can you tell us a little bit about your personal history and your wrestling background?
Frank Edgar: Yeah, I’m pretty much born in raised in Jersey. I lived in Tom Rivers pretty much my whole life…the Jersey shore. I was just a typical Jersey Shore kid. I had my Mom, my Dad and my sister.
MMAFightline.com: Middle class family?
Frank Edgar: Yeah, I’d say middle class. Working class definitely. I was a two-time state place winner for New Jersey and I took second in the high school nationals in 2000. I went to college at Clarion University. I was a four-time division I national qualifier for Clarion as well as a college freestyle All-American in 2004. I won 140 matches in college.
MMAFightline.com: Do you feel that wrestling on the collegiate level was more of a challenge than MMA?
Frank Edgar: Yeah, not really. I just think I’m growing up more and maturing in my fighting more mentally and physically. I think if I had a chance to stick it out in wresting a couple more years I would have noticed better results there too. I just think the timing’s good for fighting and fighting is just a better fit for me. Being able to hit someone just makes it seem all that much better too.
MMAFightline.com: What specific attribute has allowed you to come into your own as a mixed martial artist?
Frank Edgar: I think a lot of times it’s my aggressiveness. You know, my aggressiveness was sometimes my achilles in wrestling. It’s kind of a thinking man’s game at times. You gotta know when to be patient and I was this guy that would like to go out there and get after it and that would sometimes hurt me. But, I think the more you go after it the better results you have so I don’t want to slow myself down.
MMAFightline.com: We heard that you were keeping a full time job. Were you able to train full time?
Frank Edgar: No I wasn’t. I worked a job and I’d train afterwards so now it’s pretty much 100 percent go. It’s definitely a nice change. I still trained everyday I just wasn’t getting two-a-day’s in and now I get two-a-days.
MMAFightline.com: What will we see from a fully trained Frank Edgar?
Frank Edgar: More progressions. That’s definitely the goal. I just want to be as well-rounded as much as possible. I don’t want to be known just as a wrestler. I want to be able to do it all and that’s my goal in the sport, to be well rounded.
MMAFightline.com: We also heard that you help out with coaching at the collegiate level. Are any of your guys interested in following in your footsteps as far as MMA?
Frank Edgar: Some of the guys are very interested in it and I think they could make that transition very nice.
MMAFightline.com: Why have wrestlers historically been able to make that transition so successfully?
Frank Edgar: I just think we’re just so used to competing and that’s what it comes down to. You have to be able to compete and be comfortable and execute what you’re trying to do. And most fighters are just mentally tough people, and that’s the same thing that you look for with wrestlers. They want pretty tough people and mentally tough people and a lot of wrestlers have a great work ethic so I think it kind of goes hand in hand with fighting because the attributes you need to be a good wrestler are the same you need to be a good fighter.
MMAFightline.com: How do you view the lightweight division as a whole right now. People are hearing a lot about the Sean Sherk steroid suspension. BJ Penn and Joe Stevenson are getting set to battle for the lightweight title, what are your thoughts?
Frank Edgar: You know, it definitely sounds like it’s going through some turmoil in the weight class. To me, obviously it does affect me because it’s my weight class, but it doesn’t affect me directly. Hopefully they figure it out soon. Having two champs in a weight class kind of makes things a little weird. But I’m sure they’ll work it out and they’ll be one at the end and that’ll be what I’m shooting for.
MMAFightline.com: Who would you say is the best fighter in the division at present?
Frank Edgar: You got to say BJ Penn. BJ Penn in shape is probably one of the best fighters in the world, so I’d have to say BJ.
MMAFightline.com: Break down the BJ Penn Joe Stevenson match up for us. Maybe give us your thoughts on the things that each guy needs to do to win?
Frank Edgar: If BJ comes in shape I just think he’s going to have too much. I definitely think Stevenson’s a tough guy. If Stevenson can take it to the later rounds then he’s got a shot. If I was Joe, I’d try to push it to the later rounds. I think that’s just going to benefit him more. Granted though, if BJ comes in shape I guess that won’t matter because he’ll be fresh all five rounds. But BJ, I think he can win anywhere. It’s kind of an easy decision for him. It’s where he wants to take it. He’s definitely got awesome striking, some power in his hands and obviously he’s a wizard on the ground. So for him, he’s got to take it where he wants to take it depending on how he feels.
MMAFightline.com: Do you have a prediction for us?
Frank Edgar: I’m not good at predictions. I’m just gonna say BJ Penn, I think he’s gonna win. I don’t know how or when, but I’m gonna go with him.
Be sure to check back with us for Part 2 of our two part exclusive interview with Frank Edgar. In Part 2, Edgar gives us some inside information on one of his favorite fighters, Georges St. Pierre. He also discusses his strengths and weaknesses as a fighter and talks about his future in the UFC.
For more on Frank Edgar, be sure to head over to his website, FrankEdgar.com