Despite a two-fight losing streak and whispers that his time had passed, UFC legend Frankie Edgar proved on Saturday his decision to move down in weight was anything but a desperate one.
Edgar, 38, made his debut at bantamweight a successful one by edging No. 5-ranked Pedro Munhoz by split decision in the main event of UFC Fight Night. The victory, over five exciting and close rounds inside the UFC Apex facility in Las Vegas, could propel the former lightweight champion into the title picture within his third division.
Two judges scored the fight 48-47 for Edgar while the third judge had it 49-46 for Munhoz. CBS Sports scored it 48-47 for Munhoz.
"Three weight classes and I proved that I can compete with the best at 38," Edgar said. "I don't want to hear nothing from anybody."
After years of fighting larger opponents in the featherweight and lightweight divisions, Edgar (24-8-1) was the taller and longer man in this key bantamweight bout. He came in shredded at 135.5 pounds yet retained his championship-level stamina by going five hard rounds and regularly dictating the pace while boxing from the outside.
"It was a hell of a fight and Pedro was a stud," Edgar said. "I heard a lot of barking that I was old and slow. I proved them all wrong. I still have some gas in this tank, baby, and I think I can make a run at 135.
"If anything, I felt better [stamina wise] than I was at any other weight not having to carry the extra pounds."
Munhoz, a 33-year-old native of Brazil, established himself early as the bigger puncher and stayed with Edgar's frenetic pace throughout by landing hard counter shots and keeping the fight in the stand-up despite Edgar's attempts at going to the ground.
Each time it looked like Munhoz (18-5, 1 NC) was on the verge of setting up a finish, though, Edgar's legendary chin held strong and responded with busy combinations. Munhoz overcame a cut to his left eye in Round 2 and entered the final stanza having done the same to Edgar as the action seemed to only increase each round.
The judges were left with a difficult decision of favoring Munhoz's heavier shots or Edgar's activity. It's a debate which could've swung in Munhoz's favor thanks to the visual toll that his hard leg kicks took in causing Edgar to limp and stumble.
Yet the fact that Edgar didn't buckle or wilt despite being hurt late in Round 4 when he was visibly tired likely helped him on the scorecards as he held his own with Munhoz throughout an exciting finale.
The win puts Edgar potentially close to a shot at new champion Petr Yan's belt considering UFC booked aging legends Dominick Cruz and Jose Aldo in the last two bantamweight title bouts despite both being less deserving than Edgar is right now.
"I just got my feet wet and I think the sky is the limit for myself [at bantamweight,]" Edgar said. "I didn't look slow in there. Pedro is a top dog and that makes me still a top dog."
CBS Sports was with you the entire way on Saturday, updating you with the latest results and highlights which you can view below.
UFC Fight Night card results
- Frankie Edgar def. Pedro Munhoz via split decision (48-47, 46-49, 48-47)
- Mike Rodríguez def. Marcin Prachnio via first-round TKO (strikes)
- Joe Solecki def. Austin Hubbard via first-round submission (standing rear-naked choke)
- Shana Dobson def. Mariya Agapova via second-round TKO (strikes)
- Daniel Rodriguez def. Dwight Grant via first-round TKO (strikes)