Riding just a hair under the fight radar this weekend is Sunday night’s TUF 19 finale card. The UFC is heavily promoting the 175 card, but if you really want more than a weekend of fan expo and fight action, you really should book your Sunday night for the event.
The card features the third fight between Frankie Edgar and B.J. Penn at 145 pounds. This will be the first outing for BJ at featherweight, and the stakes are high, as president, Dana White has stated on record that with a loss, BJ might be pushed toward permanent retirement by the organization.
Bloody Elbow recently interviewed former Lightweight champion and Featherweight top contender staple, Frankie Edgar, who discussed time management with an increasing family unit, why he’s not worried about a “motivated” BJ Penn, and his plans for the future. Here’s what he had to say:
Bloody Elbow: With the new addition to your family, how do you divide your time between so many different things (training for a fight, PR obligations, new baby)?
Frankie Edgar: I’m just doing what anybody in this position would. I’ve just got to make time for everything and get my training in. Thankfully my wife has been super supportive and understands the situation I’m in. If I was still a plumber I’d still be juggling things around, so that’s all I’m doing.
Bloody Elbow: Is it more or less difficult dealing with it in a fighting career, especially with a bout coming up?
Frankie Edgar: It definitely makes things a little difficult, but you make adjustments. There’s always going to be some type of thing you have to deal with in a fight camp; I don’t think I’ve ever had a fight camp that has gone 100% smoothly, so it just seems like it’s almost the norm.
Bloody Elbow: Did you find out anything about BJ that surprised you during this season of TUF?
Frankie Edgar: Not really, given the fact we’ve fought two times. I was a fan of BJ before I got into the UFC, so there’s not too much I didn’t know about him. He’s a laid back guy, kinda like myself, so there was no real tension, though we’re both very competitive.
Bloody Elbow: He recently said his drop down to 145lbs was purely to rematch you. How does it feel for someone to pretty much admit they’re obsessed with you?
Frankie Edgar: I guess it makes me feel kinda special. I have a place in BJ’s heart and he wants the chance to get those fights back. It’s just his competitive nature, but I’m just as competitive so I’m for sure not trying to lose the third time out.
Bloody Elbow: There’s a saying about a “motivated BJ Penn.” Tell me about a motivated Frankie Edgar.
Frankie Edgar: You don’t hear people talk about a motivated Frankie Edgar because I’m motivated every day. I’ve been motivated from the first time I fought in the UFC. You don’t have to talk about when I’m motivated or not, I’m always motivated. I don’t believe in that motivated/not motivated stuff. Being motivated is something you’ve got to live every day of your life, and I’ve been living it ever since I decided I wanted to be an athlete.
Bloody Elbow: Would you consider a move back to 155lbs, or do you feel like 145lbs is the best fit?
Frankie Edgar: 145lbs is where I’m going to stay for now. I’ll never say I’ll never move because you never know what the future holds, but I think right now the 145lbs title is what’s on my mind. I need to handle business with BJ and worry about what’s after that.
Bloody Elbow: You’ve fought champions in multiple weight classes, from BJ to Ben Henderson to Jose Aldo… Who do you feel was your toughest opponent from those champs, and are there any big names out there you would still like to fight?
Frankie Edgar: I don’t think I could really say who was the toughest fight; they all have their own qualities that made them champions and such tough fights. Benson was very diverse with great cardio, Aldo had great stand-up and is very fast and BJ is well rounded and dangerous in a lot of positions. I don’t really have anyone on my radar. I just want to make sure I get that title again. That’s my goal. I tasted it once and I want to hold that belt again.
Bloody Elbow: One of my colleagues wants to know if that was a real tiger in the Fox commercial?
Frankie Edgar: [Laughs] Nah it wasn’t a real tiger. There was actually a real tiger on set, but I’m not cool with jumping onto a real tiger.
Bloody Elbow: Do you feel like you get a lot of fan dissent because you’re the guy who dethroned BJ Penn not once, but twice?
Frankie Edgar: Not at all. I get a lot love from fans and I don’t think they’re mad at me for dethroned BJ. Maybe some diehard BJ fans are, but for the most part I get a lot of love.
Bloody Elbow: Jon Jones is kind of in the middle of contract negotiations, he’s not signing any fight agreements and Dana White said he’s being really difficult and it’s not sitting well with him. When you renegotiate, how does that kind of work? Do you approve the conditions, or does your manager, Ali do it for you?
Frankie Edgar: It’s a collective thing. Ali and I talk about it to see what works best for us and sit down with Dana, Lorenzo and those guys and come up with something that makes sense for both sides.
Bloody Elbow: I’ve seen guys, especially Donald Cerrone, say “I need to fight as many times a year as I can because I burn through my money.” How do you handle your money, are you a guy who saves, invests or spends, and what do you think of guys who just throw their money around like it’s growing on trees?
Frankie Edgar: I have two, almost three kids now, so I have to make sure I’m smart with my money since my fight career can only last for so long. I’ve got no problems with guys who want to burn through it and have fun doing it, it’s not really up to me what Donald Cerrone does with his money.
Bloody Elbow: What are your plans for your post fight career?
Frankie Edgar: I’d like to get into my own gym. I own some real estate and I’d like to be a mogul, I guess. Why not.
Bloody Elbow: What was the fight you saw that inspired you to become a mixed martial artist?
Frankie Edgar: I definitely remember being a kid and watching the first few UFC’s, UFC 1 or 2, but I didn’t know what would become of the sport then. I would probably say it was my senior year at college when I was watching the ultimate fighter and seeing former college wrestlers make a career out of fighters. It was one of those times, Randy versus Chuck probably.
Bloody Elbow: Since becoming a father do you find you take more or less risk?
Frankie Edgar: When I fight, I’m willing to do whatever it takes to win. Sometimes I have to put myself in danger to do so, but when I’m in a fight I’m not thinking about the future, I’m thinking about what it takes to win that fight.
Bloody Elbow: Do you find yourself being more careful in training? How do you stay so healthy year round, because it seems like you’re very rarely injured.
Frankie Edgar: I just think I train smart and I train with the right people. I just spar. I think the best way to get in shape for fighting is by fighting, so we spar pretty hard. I don’t know what I do differently [to not get injured.] I just go about my training. I think the fact I don’t really take much time off means my body is always in good shape and I’m never really out of shape where I could get injured. I do active release therapy on a regular basis and I take a rest when I need it.
Bloody Elbow: Can you tell us a little bit more about active release therapy?
Frankie Edgar: My chiropractor focuses on active release therapy, which is just stretching the muscles and ligaments and isolating certain muscle groups and ligaments to make sure they’re working properly.
Bloody Elbow: If you could have dinner and a discussion with one person, past or present, who would you choose and why?
Frankie Edgar: I’d say Bruce Lee, just because he’s maybe the father of mixed martial arts.
Frankie fights Sunday night against B.J. Penn on the TUF 19 finale card in Las Vegas. The card will be aired on FOX Sports 1.
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