History in the making: Frankie Edgar tries out for The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 5 and is not selected


Frankie Edgar, who was already 6-0 on the regional circuit with four finishes, wanted to show he was good enough to compete inside the Octagon by trying out for season five The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) back in 2007. So why did the promotion pick up-and-coming talents like Wayne Weems and Andy Wang -- but not "The Answer?"

Remember that epic trilogy between former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Lightweight Champion Frankie Edgar and top division contender Gray Maynard?

It almost happened in spring 2007 -- before either fighter ever "officially" stepped foot inside the Octagon.

That's because Maynard was selected to participate in the fifth season of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF), the combat sports reality show on Spike TV that also featured Joe Lauzon, Matt Wiman, Cole Miller and eventual winner of the "six-figure contract," Nate Diaz.

One fighter it didn't include was Edgar.

It wasn't for a lack of trying. "The Answer" told me during our conversation a few years back (see it here) that he in fact auditioned for what was widely perceived as the fast-track to cagefighting superstardom, but was not selected, despite a 6-0 record with four finishes on the regional circuit.

Was the high school wrestling phenom out of Toms River, NJ, overqualified?

Perhaps. Edgar was coming off a unanimous decision win over fellow Ring of Combat (ROC) standout Jim Miller -- the same Jim Miller who would join him in the Octagon and put together an astonishing seven-fighting winning streak in one of the promotion's deepest divisions.

Edgar had little time to be disappointed over his TUF snub.

Not long after his audition, UFC matchmaker Joe Silva was on the phone with an offer he couldn't refuse. The good news? There was a fight already lined up for him inside the Octagon. The bad news? It was against top lightweight up-and-comer Tyson Griffin.

Griffin was 8-0 at the time and had already made a mockery of some of the sport's biggest names, stopping Urijah Faber before knocking out Jorge Evangelista and strangling Duane Ludwig. It should come as no surprise, then, to learn that Edgar was a +550 underdog.

Somebody made boku bucks at UFC 67 back on Feb. 3, 2007 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

That's where Edgar, making his first UFC appearance on the same card that featured the Octagon debut of Quinton Jackson, defeated the American Top Team (ATT) prospect by way of unanimous decision. "The Answer" was rewarded with two more fights in 2007, where he also cruised past Mark Bocek and Spencer Fisher on the judges' scorecards.

Then came "The Bully."

Maynard would hand the rising star his first setback in the high altitude of Broomfield, Colorado, in the co-main event of UFC Fight Night 13. Three months later he was back on his horse, taking a unanimous decision over former division number one contender Hermes Franca.

An upset win against ex-titleholder Sean Sherk followed by a submission win over Matt Veach was good enough to earn the Jersey Shore native a crack at the crown, held by B.J. Penn, who ironically had coached the season of TUF that had the UFC brass telling Edgar his services would not be needed.

If they only knew.

Edgar, once again a +550 underdog, would shock the world in Abu Dhabi and usurp the throne at UFC 112. His reign would be mired in rematches, first against "The Prodigy" at UFC 118, followed by a pair against Gray Maynard and Ben Henderson, the latter costing him 155 pounds of gold.

It was time to head south for the winter.

Even in victory, the running narrative on Edgar's career was how small he was for a lightweight. By his own admission, making the featherweight limit was "not a problem" and one of his lead coaches even suggested a move to bantamweight, a full 20 pounds below the division he once ruled.

We're about to find out if it was destiny -- or delusion.

Waiting to greet him will be 145-pound thrashing machine Jose Aldo, who is the winner of 14 straight fights with eight of those wins coming by way of knockout or technical knockout. The action gets underway in the UFC 156 main event, which emanates from the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada on Feb. 2, 2013.

The bout will mark Edgar's fifth-straight pay-per-view (PPV) headliner. Not bad for a kid who couldn't make TUF.

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