Frankie Edgar knows he has a hit a lull in his career after losing three straight fights, all title bouts.
Yet the former UFC lightweight champions confidence and work ethic, even at age 31, havent wavered leading up to his fight Saturday night against featherweight Charles Oliveira at UFC 162 in Las Vegas.
Latest MMA stories
Benson Henderson defeated Edgar and took his lightweight title in February 2012 and then won the rematch a couple of months later. Both were close contests. After dropping down to featherweight in February 2013, Edgar was outscored by Jose Aldo in a title fight.
This will be the first time since December 2009 that Edgar (15-4-1) will not compete in a title fight.
Thats motivation, Edgar said. Its also disappointing to train as hard as I do and to want to win as much as I do and still come up short. The position Im in builds mental toughness.
It also creates pressure.
I always put a lot of pressure on myself, Edgar added. I may not show it, it may not come out of me, but pressure is there. Well see how much this pressure builds. I feel like I do well in pressure situations; pressure makes diamonds.
And pressure is not something entirely new for the New Jersey native. After upsetting BJ Penn at UFC 112 for the lightweight championship in April 2010, Edgar overcame pressure to defeat Penn again four months later. In May 2011, Edgar beat Gray Maynard, the only man to have defeated Edgar up to that point, to retain the championship after the two battled to a draw earlier that year.
A win Saturday could put Edgar (14-4-1) in position for a future title bout; yet, Edgar said his sole focus right now is on defeating Oliveira (16-3) and ending the worst stretch of his professional career so far.
All of Oliveira's UFC wins have come via submission. He's 2-1 since becoming a featherweight and comes off a loss to Cub Swanson.
Now fighting at 145 pounds, the 5-foot-6 Edgar said hes no longer one of the smaller guys in his weight class, yet added Oliveira, known for his jiu-jitsu, is probably more athletic and faster.
Regardless, Edgar said hes ready for any type of fight and is determined to end his losing skid.
Im not looking past this fight, Edgar said. Im willing to compete for what I have to earn. Im going to ride this until the wheels fall off.