BOSTON - AUGUST 28: Frank Edgar celebrates with the belt after defeating BJ Penn in a five round decision during their UFC lightweight title bout at the TD Garden on August 28 2010 in Boston Massachusetts. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
The more Frankie Edgar sees of an opponent, the better he performs. And despite dropping split decision to Ben Henderson in Saturday's (Aug. 11, 2012) UFC 150 main event, "The Answer" served notice that he's not going down to 145 pounds.
At least for a while.
In fact, when you compare Edgar's bouts against people he's fought previously, his improvement is astounding. After coming in against an 8-1 under in his title-winning decision over B.J. Penn, Edgar handily dominated the rematch in what was perhaps the biggest upset in 2010.
It wasn't even close the second time around, as Edgar simply expanded on his original game plan of volume and dazzling movement to outpoint Penn. Then, in his second bout with Gray Maynard, Edgar faced an opponent who would flat-out dominated him in their first fight.
Nearly blitzed out in the opening minutes, Frankie's rally over five dramatic rounds was as impressive a successful title defense as the game had seen in some time. Then, in meeting Maynard for their third bout, Edgar improved even more, rallying back from another rough opening-round start to tune up and take out Maynard in a masterful showing.
Perhaps being doubted, relegated as too small off the heels of their first bout, is what motivated Edgar's excellent showing in the Henderson rematch.
Frankie's ability to update tactics and use his assets -- movement, speed, and a phenomenal ability to scramble in grappling sequences -- nearly upended Henderson's reign in the champ's first defense. Fans looking for Jose Aldo to get a challenger perceived as competitive were surely disappointed, but one division's loss is another's gain, and Edgar's presence at 155 ensures yet another solid player in an incredibly competitive division.
Given the considerable depth and parity at the top levels of the lightweight ranks, don't be surprised if the title changes hands regularly. That in itself ensures that Edgar is likely to get another shot in the coming months. And if anyone beats him, if past history is a guide, they'd be best served to not face him again given his uncanny ability to improve against people he's tested the waters against.
Jason Probst can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter.com/jasonprobst.