Link to the article hereNewly minted UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar has one week off to savor his belt, and then it's back to work. There's a target on his back, after all.
Not more than two days after Edgar (12-1 MMA, 7-1 UFC) bested B.J. Penn (15-6 MMA, 11-5 UFC) on points this past Saturday at UFC 112, Penn said an immediate rematch is in the works and could take place within three to four months.
Gray Maynard (9-0 MMA, 7-0 UFC) also wants the first shot at the new champion.
Edgar is not one to make a scene about who's next. But if he has to pick one, it's Maynard.
"You'd have to say so," the 28-year-old Edgar told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) today. "He has a win over me."
That fight took place in April 2008 in suburban Denver. Maynard outwrestled Edgar in the mile-high meeting and took home a decision with unanimous 30-27 scores.
Penn, meanwhile, fell short on all three scorecards with 50-45, 48-47 and 49-46 scores at this past weekend's UFC 112 event. It's that 50-45 score that's been eating at many fans, not to mention the former champion.
"It doesn't surprise me," Edgar said of Penn's wish for a second go-around. "He's a very competitive person. He feels he's the best fighter, so I'm sure he wants to prove that."
Edgar didn't much stop to think about the scores this past Saturday at Concert Arena in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. He dropped to his knees at the announcement and fought back tears. Backstage afterward, he reconnected with his wife and parents, who had been to many a wrestling meet and seen him lose on the mat.
When he returned to Toms River, N.J., on Sunday night, approximately 150 friends and fans met him at the airport. A phalanx of firetrucks, ambulances and police cars drove him around the city, which was the next best thing to a parade.
That's a much nicer thing on which to focus.
"Do I think I won every round? It wasn't like I definitely won every round," Edgar said. "I guess if my team or my mom was looking at it, she might have thought I won every round. But it was close. I still feel I won the majority of the rounds."
Edgar does admit his work is cut out for him in the 155-pound division. In addition to the myriad of challengers who wait in the wings, he sees room for improvement in his frenetic style of boxing, wrestling and jiu jitsu. But he doesn't see his size as an issue, which many pundits suggest.
He may have unintentionally spotlighted the issue when UFC president Dana White could not fit the lightweight belt around his waist at the announcement of his victory.
"I've definitely been getting a lot of flack – a lot of people saying I should be fighting at 145 (pounds) since Day One," Edgar said. "It's easy to see I am the smaller of the two guys when I fight.
"But as long as I'm getting the job done, I don't see any problem with it."
And ultimately, the belt is sitting in his living room.
As of Tuesday morning, neither he nor his manager have been contacted about rematch with Penn, and Edgar said he'll wait to hear from the UFC before giving it too much thought.
In the meantime, he's spending time with his 1-year-old son, Francesco.
Those wrestling upsets don't seem so important now.
"It's finally nice to say I reached the pinnacle of what I've been pursuing," Edgar said.