Frankie Edgar to wrestle in Grapple at the Garden 2
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Mixed martial artist Frankie Edgar will finally get the opportunity to fight at Madison Square Garden.
Edgar, a former UFC lightweight champion, will wrestle Phillipe Nover in Grapple at the Garden 2 on Dec. 1.
"It's not with gloves on, you know, but wrestling shoes will do," Edgar told Newsday.
Grapple at the Garden is a daylong wrestling event featuring 16 colleges, including Hofstra and the club team at Stony Brook, 16 high schools and another 16 or so other showcase matches.
The main event features Kyle Dake, a four-time national champion for Cornell (2010-13), against Bubba Jenkins, a 2011 national champion from Arizona State. Jenkins now competes in MMA, including a third-round TKO win over Ian Rammel at Bellator 109 on Friday night. Other notable MMA fighters who will wrestle include Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal, Joe Warren, David Branch and Waylon Lowe.
Edgar, one of the toughest MMA fighters, has a wrestling pedigree. He wrestled at Clarion and qualified for the Division I national tournament four times.
"It's more fun than anything," Edgar said. "It's kind of nostalgic. I haven't been on a wrestling mat since 2005 in competition. This kind of brings it back to the old school a little bit."
Nover, from Brooklyn, had zero wrestling background until he became an MMA fighter and reached the final on Season 8 of the UFC's "Ultimate Fighter" in 2008.
"I didn't know what a double-leg or a single-leg was," Nover said. "I might not know the rules as well, but I know I'm supposed to take the guy down and not get taken down."
Edgar and Nover have trained together before at Renzo Gracie Academy in Manhattan and at Edge Wrestling in Hoboken, N.J.
"Hopefully Frankie doesn't go out there in the first minute and throw me on my head," Nover said. "I probably have a small percentage of actually scoring a point."
For the New Jersey-bred Edgar, his journey to the Garden took a different route. He always figured it would be as an MMA fighter inside the Octagon for a UFC event at "the world's most famous arena," home to Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier, to Rocky Marciano vs. Joe Louis, to the 1994 Stanley Cup and "The Dunk" by John Starks.
But Edgar's chosen profession remains illegal in New York. The state is the only entity in North America to ban the sport, a law enacted in 1997 and one the UFC continues to lobby to overturn. Edgar has helped his company's battle by speaking at area events and rallies about the sport.
"I don't know how often I'll do this, or if I'll ever do it again if the opportunity arises," said Edgar, who finished filming on next season's "Ultimate Fighter" on Friday. "But I figured why not one more time."
GRAPPLE AT THE GARDEN
Sunday, Dec. 1, starts at 10 a.m.
Tickets at thegarden.com/grapple
Kyle Dake vs. Bubba Jenkins
Frankie Edgar vs. Phillipe Nover
Team Renzo Gracie vs. Team Joe Warren (six matches)
USA vs. Canada (two women’s matches)
PSAL dual meet invitational (16 high schools)
Men’s Greco-Roman matches
Men’s and women’s freestyle matches
Colleges in dual meets
Stony Brook (club)
Westchester CC (club)