Frankie Edgar will face Jose Aldo for the lightweight title in Las Vegas… (UFC / YouTube )
LAS VEGAS — Losing sometimes takes you to a different place.
Frankie Edgar moved down to featherweight only because he was twice beaten by his replacement as the Ultimate Fighting Championship lightweight champion, Benson Henderson.
Yet, Edgar, the 31-year-old New Jersey fighter, says the comfort he feels at 145 pounds should lead him to perhaps his strongest effort in the octagon yet when he meets gifted Brazilian Jose Aldo for the lightweight title in the UFC 156 main event Saturday night at Mandalay Bay.
"Fighting at 145 has made me focus like never before on what I put into my body," Edgar said this week at a luncheon in Burbank, where he munched lightly on a steak salad with vinaigrette dressing on the side. "It's made me faster. My cardio is better. I feel more athletic."
Aldo, 26, is 21-1, and is headlining the UFC's Super Bowl weekend card. Aldo hasn't lost since 2005 and has ended eight of his last 11 fights by knockout via knees, elbows, punches and rapid movement.
"Phenomenal leg kicks, he mixes it up, he's fast, very explosive," Edgar said of the champion. "This is not an easy fight, but I believe I'm prepared."
Aldo is a 2-1 betting favorite to defeat Edgar (14-3-1).
In Edgar, Aldo is confronting a fighter who has never been stopped or submitted — a claim made more impressive by the fact he routinely gave up several pounds to lightweights who'd weigh in at the 155-pound limit and tack on several pounds by the next night in the octagon.
"I don't know that I'll be the biggest 145-pounder," the 5-feet-6 Edgar said. "But I won't be outsized anymore."
Edgar's sturdiness defines him. He made his UFC debut as the opening fight on the Super Bowl weekend card seven years ago and diligently progressed to ultimately beat UFC legend B.J. Penn to win the lightweight belt in 2010.
His wrestling and striking skills complement the grit he developed in street fights on the New Jersey shore.
"I try to be as technical as I can, but I do seem to get hit by big shots occasionally," Edgar said. "It wasn't like I was beat as a kid or anything like that, but I'm super competitive."
In his first loss to Henderson, Edgar suffered a broken nose on a decisive kick. Judges scored against Edgar 48-47 twice and 49-46. In the rematch, one judge gave Edgar a 49-46 edge, but the other two gave Henderson a 48-47 nod despite Edgar out-striking the champion.
"I put up my best effort against Ben … this time, I don't want to give the judges an option," Edgar said.
The pay-per-view card includes the return of heavyweight title challenger Alistair Overeem following a positive result for elevated synthetic testosterone use. Should Overeem defeat his opponent Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva, White will likely give Overeem a title shot at Cain Velasquez in May.
Also, former light-heavyweight champion Rashad Evans fights Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, and former title challengers Jon Fitch and Demian Maia meet in a welterweight bout.