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UFC Busan preview: Frankie Edgar showing these kids how it’s done, yet again

UFC Seasonal Press Conference Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Frankie Edgar has nothing to lose.

I know you’re probably thinking, “He can lose the fight, dumbass,” and you wouldn’t be wrong. But that’s a small price to pay for a trip to South Korea, where “The Answer” will make about $200,000 if he loses to Chan Sung Jung and probably double that if he wins.

Edgar, 38, was expected to make the drop down to the bantamweight division to battle No. 3-ranked contender, Cory Sandhagen, but then the promotion called and asked him to step in for the injured Brian Ortega in the UFC Busan main event this Sat. night (Dec. 14) on ESPN+.

What’s great about this short-notice fight, at least from Edgar’s position, is that it has no adverse affect on his career, barring injury or some other wacky happenstance. Let’s assume he gets smoked by “The Korean Zombie” ... so what? He was moving down to bantamweight anyway.

“I’m still planning on making the move down to 135,” Edgar told MMA Fighting. “I want to work my way towards the title. I still have those aspirations. I feel like if you’re in this sport and you’re not trying to be the best then maybe you shouldn’t be in the sport. I still want to be the best.”

Jose Aldo, another former UFC champion, lost his last fight at featherweight, dropped to 135 pounds and lost that fight too, and is still in the running for a potential bantamweight title shot, so there’s no reason to think Edgar would not be entitled to keep his Sandhagen spot — or something comparable — after this weekend’s action.

Even if the promotion has to postpone it for a month or two.

With that in mind, I admit I was a bit surprised to hear Sandhagen, 27, slam Edgar for taking the Jung fight. Instead, he should be paying attention to “The Answer” because the former lightweight champion is laying the blueprint for the fighters who come after him. There’s a reason Edgar makes good money and has lots of pull within the organization and I can promise you, it’s not because he’s from New Jersey.

Short-notice main events are offered from time-to-time. Some fighters (like Edgar) take them, even when they are risky and can lead to disaster. Other fighters (like Francis Ngannou) don’t, because they don’t want to lose their spot in line. There is no right or wrong answer because every athlete has to do what they believe is best for their career.

One thing I do know is that Edgar is bringing home a monster paycheck for Christmas while “The Predator” is talking about exploring free agency because he never gets to compete.

Sandhagen can do all the bellyaching he wants about losing his “Answer” fight but if he’s honest with himself, he’ll admit that his end goal is to be in the same place as Edgar: Being able to fight who you want, when you want, because you’ve already seen and done (almost) everything there is to do.

While getting paid accordingly.

MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 165 fight card on Saturday (CLICK HERE), starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” undercard bouts at 2 a.m. ET, followed by the ESPN+ main card start time at 5 a.m. ET.

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