Frankie Edgar: The hunt for a second belt
Fromer UFC Lightweight Champion and New Jersey's own, Frankie Edgar (22-5-1), was slated to get another shot at the featherweight belt this Saturday night at UFC 222. When Max Holloway pulled out of the event with an injury, Edgar made it clear that he still wanted to fight. He agreed to fight Brian Ortega in the co-main event. Edgar held and defended the lightweight belt from 2010 to 2011 before moving down to featherweight. As a featherweight, his only two losses came to Jose Aldo in his only two fights for a belt. If Edgar can get past "T-City" on Saturday night, he will get at third crack at the strap.
Frankie Edgar is 36 years old and on the back end of his career but does not appear to be slowing down. He still has an iron chin and has never been finished in his professional career. Ortega is not known for his boxing but he can definitely strike well enough to open up his opponents for submissions. Edgar likely has the better boxing in this matchup and will look to use that to out-work Ortega in the opening rounds. Ortega is a slow starter so in a three round fight, Edgar just needs to do enough damage in the first two rounds to survive the third.
The wrestling of Frankie Edgar is his biggest strength. He will look to lie on Ortega and tire him out throughout the match. Because of Ortega's incredible jiu-jitsu, Edgar should keep things on the feet if he gets the better of the boxing but if Ortega can hit him, ground and pound is an option. A takedown could land him in the dangerous guard of Ortega. Edgar has a black belt of his own and is difficult to finish on the floor.
Brian Ortega: A golden chance for "T-City"
Brian "T-City" Ortega (13-0, 1 NC) learned that he would fight Frankie Edgar just three weeks ago when Max Holloway pulled out of the title fight. He took the fight with no questions asked and will look to turn it into a shot at the belt. Before Ortega even thinks about Max Holloway, he will have to take out one of the toughest fighters on the planet. Nearly a decade younger than his opponent, "T-City" still holds an undefeated record.
Ortega is coming off a huge main event win over Cub Swanson. He took out Swanson with a standing guillotine in the second round of their bout. Ortega found Swanson's neck, pulled guard, and finished the fight. The jiu-jitsu of Ortega is easily one of the best in the featherweight division. A black belt under Rener Gracie, he has finished seven fights by submission. If Edgar gets the better of the boxing in the first round, Ortega should look to make his grappling the priority.
Even if Brian Ortega gets taken down by Frankie Edgar, he is still in a good position if he can get to full guard. Ortega is called "T-City" for a reason and can slap on a triangle when it is least expected. After a takedown, sitting in Ortega's guard would be a mistake for Edgar. In this three round fight, "T-City" can not afford to start off slow like he has done in the past. Fighters like Frankie Edgar who can grind minutes off the clock on the ground will usually get the win if they are given an early lead.
Frankie Edgar will likely get the better of this fight on the feet. He will not be afraid to go to the ground with Ortega but should definitely avoid getting into a grappling match. If he does land a takedown, he should look to get to mount and wear "T-City" down with ground strikes. Edgar is a very strong featherweight and does well in the clinch but should know from the Cub Swanson fight to watch his neck in that position.
Ortega has a bag full of submissions and chances are, we have not seen everything he has to offer in just 14 fights. If he ends up on his back against the wrestler, Ortega will look for some sneaky submissions from the bottom. Brian Ortega's guard is one of the most dangerous places to be for a fighter. He has to come out firing in this fight, however, to get a win. He cannot afford to start slow against this type of fighter in a three round bout.
The fighter hat gets the better of the boxing will likely have the advantage if this one goes to the scorecards. If he can avoid being submitted, Edgar will also score some points from his takedowns and grind down the clock in top position. No man has ever finished Frankie Edgar and Brian Ortega will not likely have enough time to do so in a short fight.
Edgar by Decision