Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Bantamweight talents Frankie Edgar and Chris Gutierrez will duel this weekend (Sat., Nov. 12, 2022) at UFC 281 from inside Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York.
The road remains ever difficult for “The Answer.” This will be the New Jersey native’s final walk to the Octagon, and in classic Edgar fashion, he’s not being given a softball. In fairness, despite a pair of knockout losses in his last two fights, Edgar has been fighting well in his 40s and only losing to elite opposition. Gutierrez, meanwhile, has been steadily climbing the Bantamweight ladder. Unbeaten in his previous seven fights, the kickboxer is approaching the 10-year mark of his professional career. At 31 years of age, he’s very clearly hitting his prime, and he’s earned an opportunity against a ranked legend in Edgar.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Key Wins: Pedro Munhoz (UFC on ESPN 15), B.J. Penn (TUF 19 Finale, UFC 118, UFC 112), Chad Mendes (TUF 22 Finale), Gray Maynard (UFC 136), Jeremy Stephens (UFC 205), Cub Swanson (UFC Fight Night 128, UFC Fight Night 57), Urijah Faber (UFC Fight Night 66)
Key Losses: Jose Aldo (UFC 200, UFC 156), Cory Sandhagen (UFC Vegas 18), Marlon Vera (UFC 268), Max Holloway (UFC 240), Brian Ortega (UFC 222)
Keys to Victory: Edgar stands out among the great wrestle-boxers in UFC history. Capturing the Lightweight title despite belonging at 135 pounds is an insane accomplishment, one that Edgar managed through pure grit and great strategy alike.
This is a fight in which both men are well-equipped to take advantage of the other’s weakness. Put simply, Gutierrez has been out-hustled and out-wrestled previously. Just two years ago, for example, the fairly unheralded Cody Durden pushed Gutierrez to a draw simply by refusing to relent on the takedown.
Even as he’s aged, Edgar has remained a fighter able to take an inch and turn it into a mile. When he’s able to complete takedowns, he’s a very difficult man to defeat. Edgar controlled Vera for solid portions of their fight, and “Chito” is a more proven grappler and scrambler than “El Guapo.”
The earlier Edgar makes this a wrestling match, the better. Very, very few 41-year-old fighters can wrestle for 15 minutes without fatiguing and imploding, but it still feels like Edgar is that rare exception.
Key Wins: Danaa Batgerel (UFC on ESPN 33), Andre Ewell (UFC 258), Felipe Colares (UFC Vegas 39), Vince Morales (UFC Vegas 1)
Key Losses: Raoni Barcelos (TUF 28 Finale)
Keys to Victory: Gutierrez is a Factory X-trained fighter, and he very much looks the part. His Muay Thai is nasty, and in particular, the low calf kick has become something of a signature weapon for him. He’s stopped multiple opponents via low kick, and in general really excels at breaking down opponents with strikes.
As the takedown is the path for Edgar, Gutierrez’s favorite calf kick is his best weapon here. Dating back to the Ben Henderson fight in 2012, calf kicks have been proven to work well against Edgar’s lateral movement. Moving side-to-side and changing directions is too built into his style to change, and that leaves him open to being swept from his feet and damaged by calf kicks.
Gutierrez is brutally effective once his foe is limping. Without his speed and ability to transition into powerful takedowns, Edgar’s kickboxing becomes a whole lot more one-note. Gutierrez can take away his foe’s best weapon quickly, provided he doesn’t get taken down in the process.
Edgar spent over a decade as an elite, Top 5-ranked fighter. Even outside of his championship reign — which, again, is unimaginable right now. Imagine Aljamain Sterling trying to challenge Islam Makhachev — his longevity and accomplishments are set in history. No one has spent more time inside the UFC’s Octagon than Edgar, and while riding off into the sunset on a win would be more ideal, it doesn’t really matter for his legacy.
For Gutierrez, the situation isn’t quite so romantic. He’s trying to pulverize another opponent and earn a position in the rankings. Ranked spots are tough to come by at 135 pounds, where so many talented prospects are constantly fighting for the slightest opening. It’s a huge opportunity, and Gutierrez doesn’t want to get shut down by a fighter on his way out if the title is his end goal.
At UFC 281, Chris Gutierrez and Frankie Edgar will square off. Can Edgar end his career on a high note?
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 281 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard (on ESPNEWS/ESPN+) at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.
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