B.J. Penn is sent reeling by a right hand from Frankie Edgar during their… (Josh Hedges / Zuffa LLC via…)
According to Georges St-Pierre, Frankie Edgar is the top pound-for-pound fighter in the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
If veteran welterweight champion St-Pierre was basing that opinion merely on Edgar’s unblinking acceptance to fight anyone in his weight range, he’s got a case.
Edgar (14-3-1) will participate in his seventh consecutive UFC title fight when he meets gifted Brazilian featherweight champion Jose Aldo (21-1) Feb. 2 at Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas.
The bout will be the first time Aldo headlines a U.S.-based pay-per-view. Aldo and Edgar were supposed to headline UFC 153 in Brazil in October, but Aldo suffered a foot injury. Tickets for the February fight go on sale Friday.
Edgar is moving down in weight after reigning as lightweight champion from April 2010 until February, when he dropped the first of two decisions to Benson Henderson.
Even after the second, narrow loss, St-Pierre endorsed Edgar as the UFC’s best, over the likes of himself, longtime middleweight champion Anderson Silva and light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones.
“I saw that, it’s flattering,” Edgar said. “I can’t pay attention to it, though, it’s something we’re never going to find out.”
Yet, in the 145-155-pound range, Edgar can stamp himself an elite by halting Aldo’s run of victories that includes a World Extreme Cagefighting triumph over veteran Urijah Faber, a 2011 decision over veteran Kenny Florian and a first-round knockout of Chad Mendes in January.
“Aldo is more dynamic than Henderson as a striker, more orthodox in his ground game, he has a lot of tools,” Edgar said. “I’m aware of what he does well. A lot of this fight will require game-time decisions.
“I’m active. I push the pace. I’m not going to change that, whoever I fight.”
Edgar said he’ll remain at 145 pounds should he win the title, “but I’ve had success at 155 too, so it’s a fight-by-fight decision.”
The Feb. 2 card is also expected to include the return of heavyweight contender Alistair Overeem, who last fought Dec. 30, 2011 against Brock Lesnar.
Overeem then went unlicensed after a surprise drug test at a UFC news conference for Overeem’s scheduled title shot against Junior Dos Santos netted a positive sample for synthetic testosterone.
Overeem claims the substance was contained in an anti-inflammatory he took for soreness.
The Nevada State Athletic Commission has tested Overeem since, and he passed. He has to appear before the commission in January to appeal for his license to fight Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva.
Overeem said he’s out to prove more than how his overall skill and kicking power can overwhelm Silva.
“I am a clean fighter,” Overeem said. “I want to win in a fair way. I’ll prove it to you guys. I’m still 265 pounds, still ripped, and still expect to beat ‘Bigfoot’ up. … I will get my license. There might be some demands. I’ll do whatever they ask of me.”
The UFC will likely award the Overeem-Silva winner a title shot at December’s Dos Santos-Cain Velasquez rematch winner.
Overeem said the layoff led to reflection, and he moved to Florida to train.
“You could say it was meant to be, this was my destiny, falling off the horse and getting back on,” he said. “I trained hard. The show must go on. I will fulfill my destiny.”
He said as much in a private meeting with UFC President Dana White.
“That conversation was necessary, for me to take responsibility for what happened,” Overeem said. “I think he appreciated my directness.”
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