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UFC Fight Night 57 complete fighter breakdown, Frankie 'The Answer' Edgar edition resident fighter analyst Andrew Richardson breaks down the mixed martial arts (MMA) game of UFC Fight Night 57 headliner Frankie Edgar, who will look to continue building his win streak at the expense of Cub Swanson this Saturday (Nov. 22, 2014) inside the Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas.

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) lightweight champ, Frankie Edgar, is set to scrap with savvy striker, Cub Swanson, at the UFC Fight Night 57 event this Saturday (Nov. 22, 2014) on FOX Sports 1 inside the Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas.

After failing to recapture his lightweight strap in a controversial split-decision loss to Ben Henderson, Edgar immediately jumped into the deep end of the featherweight talent pool in an unofficial "super fight" with Jose Aldo. Though he lost to the Brazilian, Edgar's surge in the championship rounds gives some interest in a rematch.

Since then, Edgar has taken a pair of clear victories over Charles Oliveira and BJ Penn. Now, he'll make a much quicker turn around against Cub Swanson, as he looks to build momentum.

Does Edgar have the mixed martial arts (MMA) skills to defeat Swanson?

Let's find out.


Commonly referred to as one of the finest boxers in the sport, Edgar has developed a movement-heavy, high-volume style of striking that works brilliantly. Building from his wrestling base masterfully, Edgar's striking has been sharpened by his boxing coach Mark Henry, Kru Phil Nurse, and his training partner -- who happens to be fighting in the co-main event -- Edson Barboza.

Edgar's boxing is entirely based off the threat of the takedown. The New Jersey-native is an incredible wrestler, and his opponent knows it. Using this to his advantage, Edgar forces his opponent to react to potential shots only to throw punches.

In addition, "The Answer" further muddies the water by frequently attacking his opponent's body with punches. While Edgar's posture is lowered to hit his opponent's mid-section, he can either run through a takedown or come up with punches to the head. Once Edgar notices how his opponent is defending, he will adjust to whatever technique is available.

It's also important to mention Edgar's frequent lateral movement. Edgar quickly circles around his opponent, switching directions often. While doing this, Edgar frequently feints with punches and takedowns. This is exhausting for Edgar's opponent, as he cannot fully establish his stance and is constantly turning to face Edgar.

To open the fight, Edgar starts by flashing his jab as he circles his opponent. For the most part, Edgar is measuring his range, not really looking to land hard shots. Once he settles into his rhythm, Edgar will begin to step into the jab, occasionally snapping his opponent's head back with the strike.

Before long, Edgar will begin to step in with his combinations. Mixing together straight punches, hooks, and uppercuts, Edgar attacks his opponent's head and body. After successfully landing his punches, he'll exit at an angle, usually with some head movement, and return to his circling.

Another way Edgar remains unpredictable is by doubling up on punches. He often throws a pair of left hooks, either attack his opponent's head twice or digging to the body and then coming up. Mixing this into his combinations helps Edgar's blows slip past his opponent's defense, as well as increasing the chance his opponent slips into a punch.

When Edgar is really trying to do damage or notices that his opponent is hurt, he will step hard into a right hook or overhand. After rocking his opponent, Edgar will halt his lateral movement and pressure him. If his opponent attempts to keep him at bay with a jab -- a fairly common reaction in MMA -- Edgar will slip inside and look to land his overhand.

When Edgar plants his feet, he can punch fairly hard.

As mentioned, Edgar's ability to blend takedowns and strikes is vital to his success. Most of his boxing entries can also be used to shoot a takedown, which leaves his opponent wondering which to defend. As the shorter man, Edgar is happy to stay in close to his opponent once he engages, allowing him to easily transition to a takedown or clinch. Plus, Edgar can use basic level change feints to land a strong overhand.

Furthermore, Edgar often uses failed takedowns in order to land strikes. He famously knocked out Gray Maynard with a powerful uppercut after failing to hold down the powerful wrestler, but Edgar had been using this technique for years. For example, his finish of Matt Veach started with a right hook off a failed show, and he landed a very nice body kick against BJ Penn as the Hawaiian defended a single leg.

Edgar is not exactly a counter striker, but he does keep an eye out for opportunities. In an attempt to discourage his opponent, Edgar looks to counter strikes that have given him issue in the past. For example, Edgar's movement-based style leaves him vulnerable to running into kicks, particularly low kicks. To discourage kicks, Edgar has gotten very good at catching his opponent's kicks and either attempting a takedown or landing counter strikes.

In addition, Edgar often attempts to counter his opponent's jab. As Edgar stops his circling to move in with a combination, his opponent will look to halt his combination with a sharp jab. To counter this, Edgar often parries the jab and comes back with a punch of his own. If he parries with his lead hand, Edgar will drill his foe with a straight right. Should he use his right hand to catch the strike, he'll come back with a hard left hook.

Edgar's movement can be quite frustrating for his opponent. If Edgar's opponent gets overly aggressive and chases "Iron" without staying defensively minded, Edgar will plant his feet and fire off a right cross. While not overly complicated, it's a powerful strike that serves as a strong reminder that Edgar can crack if needed.

Since Edgar basically mastered his brand of wrestle-boxing, his kicking game has really developed further in recent years. His leg kicks have been effective for quite some time, but they seem to carry a bit more power now, as Edgar turns his hips into them better. In addition, Edgar will capitalize on his lateral movement by running into the low kick, which can easily take Edgar's opponent off his feet.

Of course, all of that movement has its downsides. If Edgar's opponent times his frantic movement with a punch, it can send "The Answer" reeling. For example, Gray Maynard countered one of Edgar's level change feints with an uppercut in the first round of their third bout. In addition, Ben Henderson and Jose Aldo found success sweeping Edgar from his feet by kicking Edgar's legs out from underneath him as he circled into the strike.


A fairly successful collegiate and high school wrestler, Edgar still trains with his high school coach, Stevie Rivera, and helps coach the Rutgers wrestling team. Since developing his transitional style of wrestling and boxing, Edgar has not been out-wrestled inside the Octagon.

Edgar's takedown setups and boxing combinations are virtually identical shockingly similar. Once Edgar gets a solid angle, he'll pause his circling to burst forward with strikes or a takedown.

And it's up to his opponent to figure out which.

Edgar often relies on his single leg takedown to get his foe on the canvas. After jabbing, Edgar will reach out and grab his opponent's lead leg. From there, he push on his opponent's head/neck with his jab hand will turning the caught leg. If he cannot finish that, Edgar will transition and blast through his opponent's side with a double or knee tap. Even when his opponent does recognize his takedown attempt in time, Edgar is still quite difficult to stop.

"Iron" will also use his double leg takedown fairly often, especially when his opponent is chasing him around the cage, similar to his right cross counter. When Edgar commits, he quickly lowers his level and blasts through his opponent's hips. Somehow, Edgar always seems to be the smaller fighter regardless of division, but it doesn't prevent him from powering through the takedown.

Alternatively, Edgar can cut a sharp angle and knock his opponent of his feet.

In addition, Edgar is often able to throw his opponents around from within the clinch. Whenever Edgar can secure an underhook, he really gets it deep and spins his opponent around with it as Edgar tosses him to the mat. Overall, Edgar is simply very good at creating pressure with whatever grip he has. For example, Charles Oliveira tried to use an underhook to hit a takedown but ended up landing on the mat face-first for his trouble, as Edgar used a whizzer expertly.

Finally, Edgar uses the front headlock very well. More often than not, he uses the grip of an arm-in guillotine, rather than a traditional wrestler's grip. Edgar is very good at pressuring down on his opponent's neck from this position and breaking down his foe's posture. In addition to hanging onto this grip as part of his sprawl, Edgar will use it to keep his opponent pinned to the mat.

For most of his early career, Edgar was a grinder from within his opponent's guard, landing hard punches and elbows at every opportunity. As his boxing developed and he faced opponent's with elite takedown defense, he shifted away from that style of fighting. However, Edgar's last two opponents have not been nearly as tough to control from the top, meaning they absorbed plenty of elbows from "The Answer."

Edgar has more than proven that his takedown defense is excellent. Against larger and occasionally better credentialed wrestlers, Edgar has been able to defend the shot. Using his front headlock and sprawl, Edgar weighs on his opponent until he can safely return to his feet or hit a reshot.

In addition, Edgar's movement ensures that his opponent can never line up a shot perfectly.

When he is taken down, Edgar is quick to return to his feet. He's competent at wall-walking, using his wrestling to turn away and stand, and using butterfly hooks to elevate his opponent to stand. Since his loss to Maynard, Edgar has not been out-wrestled, proving his development in their pair of rematches.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ)

A Ricardo Almeida black belt, Edgar has been working his grappling with "Big Dog" and Renzo Gracie for years. He may not be the most active pursuer of the submission, but Edgar's still an excellent grappler who's more than capable of grabbing the neck if an opportunity presents itself.

Edgar does, however, look for the arm-in guillotine quite often, which is a natural addition to his game for a couple reasons. In addition to fitting very well with the front head lock from wrestling, the arm-in guillotine is a specialty of Almeida's. Edgar looked to finish Gray Maynard with an arm-in guillotine in their second bout, which he pulled guard with before the clock ran out, and also used the choke to control Ben Henderson after dropping him.

From his back, Edgar's main focus is returning to his feet. After first controlling his opponent with the full guard, Edgar will switch to the butterfly guard. From there, he can elevate his opponent and get an underhook, which he'll then use to stand.

Overall, Edgar is a very defensively-sound fighter. From the top position, he's careful with his hand placement and posture, which prevents most submissions before they begin. For example, Edgar fought for a pretty decent amount of time within Charles Oliveira's hyperactive guard, but the Brazilian was not able to threaten significantly.

The exception to this is the guillotine. Due to how frequently he shoots, Edgar is often forced to fight off his opponent's guillotine attempts. Even in this, Edgar is very patient and measured. As he fights his opponent's hands, he'll lean to the opposite side of the choke, relieving some of the pressure. It may remain uncomfortable, but Edgar can last longer than his opponent's grip strength.

Best chance for success

Against Swanson, Edgar is once again in there with an opponent who he can damage on the ground. Swanson is very capable from his back, but Edgar is still at a clear advantage from that position and should pursue it.

Due to Swanson's fairly wild style and Edgar's overall wrestling advantage, Edgar can sacrifice a bit of control in order to do more damage from the top. In all likelihood, Edgar will be able to rack up takedowns as necessary, which means he can let loose with ground strikes. If Swanson scrambles up to his feet -- which is exhausting -- Edgar can throw him back down sooner rather than later.

While both men are on their feet, Edgar should be sure to throw lots of leg kicks. Swanson is not very active in checking them, and it will help limit some of the strikers explosive movements.

Will Frankie Edgar continue building his win streak, or can Cub Swanson earn a title shot with an upset?

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