The main event was former lightweight title holder Frankie Edgar taking on the divisional hotshot Cub Swanson.
Before the fight Swanson was ranked two in the UFC featherweight division with Edgar just once place behind him in third position. Both men had stated they were after a shot at Jose Aldo’s world title. Many expected the winner to be in pole position to be granted that title shot by UFC president Dana White and match-maker Sean Shelby.
In truth, the fight was a lob-sided contest. Frankie Edgar threw over 400 strikes (elbows, kicks and punches) in the 25 minutes of action. He landed 7 of his 13 attempted takedowns and spent over 15 minutes on top of Swanson, controlling him on the mat after the fight had hit the floor.
He finally coaxed a quick ‘tapout’ from Swanson with 10 seconds left in the fifth five minute round that was a combination of a rear naked choke and a neck crank.
Frankie Edgar won in style against Cub Swanson
Edgar fighting style is to start fast and keep the pace high throughout his fight. As his opponent tires the high pace and work rate generally leads to a decision victory on the judges’ scorecards or he breaks his opponent mentally to the point where they quit.
Though Swanson remained in the Octagon for 24 minutes and 50 seconds of the scheduled 25 minutes, his fighting spirirt may have left long before. As Edgar squeezed his arm around his neck it presented an opportunity to end what had been a nightmare of a fight for Swanson.
After getting his hand raised Edgar made another bid for a featherweight title shot in the post-fight interview – “Dana White, I know you’re watching. I hope you liked what you see. I’m coming for that belt”. In the post fight press conference Edgar was asked ‘Do we need to wait till January and see what happens with Conor McGregor or do you feel with your performance tonight you should get the title shot next?”
Edgar was resolute – “It should be me, based on my performance and what I’ve done in my career, it should be me.”
Unfortunately for Edgar, its not that simple and I’d expect we will have to wait till January as Conor McGregor has become the most talked about fighter, not just in the featherweight division, in the entire UFC roster.
While Edgar has a legitimate claim to a title shot, he’s fought the champion Aldo before and lost. His win over Swanson was only Edgar’s 3rd fight since losing to Aldo. While nobody would begrudge him his title shot the game plan he used in losing to Aldo was the same game plan that beat Swanson. Will we see something different if Edgar does indeed get another crack at Aldo?
Aldo was last in action at the end of October in a hard fought 5 round decision victory over Chad Mendes. McGregor had been hoping to fight for the featherweight championship belt before the end of 2014. As is common after a tough five rounder, the champion will be side lined till March/April of 2015 at the earliest. The Irish star was matched with German kickboxer Denis Siver in January in Boston. For most, this appeared to be merely a tune up fight while the champion rested up.
If McGregor wins in Boston he will have a perfect 5-0 record in the UFC. If he wins as he plans with a 1st round KO he will have made a massive statement – “This will be my 3rd fight in the time most of any these fools have fought once… I will have back-to-back-to-back 1st round KO’s… I’m steaming my way through the division and I will continue to do so till there’s nobody left… It’ll be a one man division when I’m finished with it.”
Another massive plus on the side of the rising UFC star is his relationship with the UFC brass. The president Dana White and owner Lorenzo Fertitta are massive McGregor fans. It appears both of these men are on speed dial on mobile and the Crumlin man often mentions conversations he has with the UFC executive when planning his next move. I’m sure all UFC fighters have these mens’ numbers but they probably don’t have the same access afforded to them.
Making McGregor the next title challenger may be a divisive move given Frankie Edgar’s pedigree. But for all the people tuning in to watch McGregor v Aldo hoping the Irishman wins you’d have just as many hoping he is defeated. Despite his impressive career prior to the UFC and his dominant victories in the Octagon to date, there is still a sizeable population in the MMA world that think the Dubliner is over rated and not deserving of a title shot.
Some of the other UFC divisional champions fail to attract strong PPV numbers in the US because they have their core fans and after that nobody cares. If you have a fighter with a hardcore following on both sides of the Atlantic like McGregor and an equal amount on the opposite side paying for the broadcast to see if he gets beaten, well now you have a cash cow.
It remains to be seen who the UFC appoint as the next title challenger and we may have to wait till after McGregor fights in Boston. An impressive victory coupled with some well-timed sound bites could get him over the line.