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Cory Sandhagen isn’t going to lie.
He’s always been a Frankie Edgar fan, which makes things difficult when he thinks about their Jan. 25 matchup in the co-main event of UFC Raleigh.
As much respect as Sandhagen (12-1 MMA, 5-0 UFC) has for Edgar (23-7-1 MMA, 17-7-1 UFC), it doesn’t change his fight night expectations. In a sense, Sandhagen sees the pairing as an unfortunate matchup for a man he calls a “legend.”
“It’s a bummer almost for me because I really like Frankie,” Sandhagen told MMA Junkie. “I’ve always been a really big fan of Frankie and I don’t want to be the one who puts the stamp on his career. But that’s kind of what my job is. That’s what I’m going to do. Not to sound arrogant. But he has to fight me on his first fight coming down to 135? That kind of sucks for him.”
Edgar’s drop to bantamweight comes on the heels of his fifth straight title-fight defeat. At UFC 240 in July, Edgar suffered a five-round, unanimous decision loss to UFC featherweight champ Max Holloway.
Despite Edgar’s attempt to reinvent himself in a new weight class, Sandhagen doesn’t think anything will change. Weight isn’t Edgar’s issue, but Father Time is, assessed Sandhagen.
“Not to sound punny, but I don’t think ‘the answer’ for him was to come down in weight… I think Frankie will feel a little bit better at 135 if he loses weight the correct way… (But) I also don’t think it’s going to be the easiest thing in the world for him.
“If he is going to do it right, he’s not going to have as much energy through training camp, which is going to be detrimental, too. Fighting me, I think that I’m kind of a nightmare of a fight for almost anyone in the division.”
Sandhagen said he watched Edgar’s fight against Holloway and was impressed by some of the tools the former UFC lightweight champion brought to the table. That said, Edgar’s body language at the end of the fight provided insight into the insurmountable challenges he faces, according to Sandhagen.
“I’m obviously catching him on the tail end of his career,” Sandhagen said. “That being said, I didn’t think he looked too bad against Max. I think the problem with Frankie — and I watched this in his post-fight interviews after Max — he looked really broken and confused as to why he wasn’t winning anymore. He was kind of looking for a solution.
“As much as I kind of hate to say it, I think that solution is you had your reign in the UFC. You did really good. You became a legend. You beat a lot of really tough guys and were the champ for a little bit. Like, that was your time. When I was watching him do that, as sad as it is, I wanted to be like, ‘It’s someone else’s time now.’ You don’t get to fight forever.”
After listening to Edgar’s post-fight interview, Sandhagen believes Edgar should have retired. As tough as it is to walk away from the sport, Sandhagen would have liked to see Edgar make that decision.
“I know that we all love fighting,” Sandhagen said. “I dread the day that I’m going to have to make the decision to retire as well. It’s going to be a very hard one. That was kind of the feel I got when I was watching those post-fight interviews.
“That was a guy who needs to call it on the sport. He’s done everything he needs to do. So why need to do this? Him coming to 135 won’t do a ton for him. He’s still going to be facing guys who have a lot of high-level skills and newer skills who are doing things differently. Like myself. It’s just tough for him.”
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