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Edgar, Weidman set for weekend's UFC main events
Former champion Frankie Edgar knows better than anyone how it feels to be UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman. Edgar, like Weidman, dethroned a dominant weight class kingpin to earn the lightweight belt four years ago, and then he had to win an immediate rematch to prove it wasn't a fluke.
Weidman -- who stopped former champ Anderson Silva twice in 2013 -- will finally see a fresh face across the octagon from him when he defends his title against Lyoto Machida on Saturday. Meanwhile, Edgar will step into the cage for a third time against B.J. Penn, the man he beat for the belt two consecutive times, on Sunday. They will headline UFC 175 and The Ultimate Fighter 19 Finale, respectively, in Las Vegas.
With a new challenger looking to take his belt in former light heavyweight champion Machida, Weidman understands the fight is unlikely to go perfectly, but only sees scenarios in which he wins.
"I expect to miss takedowns. I expect to get hit," said Weidman, a Long Island native, "I always expect those type of things, and I always look for a way, I'm going to find a way to win no matter [what]."
Although he was a former All-American wrestler at Hofstra, Weidman is no grinder. He's 11-0 with eight finishes, including two submissions three TKOs in his last six bouts. It's a trend he looks to continue this weekend.
"I won't be happy unless I finish [Machida], to be honest," Weidman said.
Like Weidman, Edgar was a national qualifier while wrestling at Clarion University. However, he struggled to achieve the same rate of finishes in his career. He's 16-4-1 -- including 3-3-1 in title fights -- but has just one TKO and one submission victory over the past six years. Edgar wants to become a better finisher and thinks being more aggressive and opportunistic will help, but he realizes it's not always that simple.
"It's easier said than done, especially in the lighter weights," said Edgar, a New Jersey native who often trains in Manhattan. "You see more decisions in the lighter weights, and I feel like I'm fighting guys that don't get finished very often anyway."
That's true of Penn, a former champion at two weight classes who is dropping down to featherweight for the first time to face Edgar. He has been stopped just twice in a 13-year, 27-fight career. Both of Edgar's wins against Penn came via unanimous decision.
If Edgar can complete the trilogy sweep, he figures to keep alive his hopes of joining Penn and Randy Couture as the UFC’s only multi-division champions. Edgar lost a close decision to 145-pound champion Jose Aldo a year ago, but yearns for a rematch.
“Our last fight was very very close,” Edgar said. “I started coming on really strong late in the fight. I’d love to be the guy to dethrone him. I’d love to be the guy to take that belt from him.”
Edgar was always undersized as a lightweight and remains one of the smaller featherweights. That has led some to peg him as a possible future three-division champion — speculating that he could drop to bantamweight one day. That goal isn’t yet on Edgar’s radar as he knows he has plenty of work left to do at his current weight.
“It’s something my coach talks about a lot, but let’s just climb the first mountain first and get that -pound title and worry about it from there,” Edgar said. “Cutting weight is not something I like to do. Could I make ? I probably could make it. I don’t know how to perform at that weight, but let’s just worry about  first.”