Frankie Edgar will walk to the octagon as a champion for the first time at UFC 118 at TD Garden in Boston on Saturday.
With the UFC lightweight title belt around his waist (or over his shoulder), Edgar still must prove to many that he is the actual champion. Despite winning a unanimous decision over BJ Penn, considered one of the best mixed martial artists now or ever, at UFC 112 in Abu Dhabi last April, Edgar must win again to validate his title.
Edgar is as much the challenger as he is the champion at UFC 118.
"You have something to prove every time you fight," said Edgar, from Tom's River, N.J. "You're only as good as your last fight. I mean, you could win fights and you're still getting criticized. I go out and prove myself every time."
Enough of the action in their first bout could have sent the rounds either way, and no one would have been completely shocked had Penn's hand been raised in victory. Still, Edgar (12-1) did something no one had accomplished in nearly four years: get a takedown on Penn in a lightweight bout. (Georges St-Pierre scored four takedowns in their welterweight bout at UFC 94.)
"It's another fight, it's another great challenge ahead of me, and that's how I approach it," Edgar said. "So this is a totally new fight for me whether it's a title defense or a new fight, old fight, it doesn't matter."
Perhaps Penn (15-6-1) just had an off night in April. Or perhaps he asked the wrong questions of Frankie "The Answer" Edgar. Another win for Edgar and everyone will consider him the champion, not just that guy who beat Penn one night.