Last Saturday night at UFC Vegas 7, former lightweight champion, Frankie Edgar (24-8-1), made a successful bantamweight debut. Edgar edged out the fifth ranked bantamweight in the UFC, Pedro Munhoz (18-5, 1 NC).
This was the third weight class that Edgar has competed in during his hall of fame career. Given Edgar’s size, he looked like he was finally in his natural weight class after always being the smallest guy at lightweight and featherweight.
Edgar is expected to debut this week in the top five of the bantamweight rankings after his victory over Munhoz. With Aljamain Sterling getting the next shot at the champion Petr Yan, what should the UFC do with Edgar’s next fight?
UFC and Edgar’s next steps
Dana White said in the post-fight press conference that Edgar needed to win one or two more times before he could get a shot at the UFC bantamweight title. Realistically, I would say he just needs one more win to earn that shot.
The UFC loves Edgar, and if he comes out and looks impressive in another win, I could see them giving him a title shot. However, booking Edgar against another contender might not be easy.
If you examine the rankings, all of the guys who will be in front of Edgar are already booked. The UFC champ, Yan, is likely fighting Sterling. Marlon Moraes is booked to fight Corey Sandhagen in October. Cody Garbrandt is moving down to flyweight so he’s not in the picture.
That leaves Edgar with no one in front of him in the rankings at the moment. He just defeated Munhoz, and I can’t see the UFC booking him against Jose Aldo, who is ranked sixth, for the third time. So who should he fight?
To me, there are two options that the UFC could go with right now. If the promotion wants to give him someone that makes sense with rankings, I’d go with Jimmie Rivera (23-4). Rivera is ranked seventh and is coming off of a win against Cody Stamann at UFC Fight Island 1.
Rivera tried to step in to fight Edgar on short notice after Munhoz originally tested positive for COVID-19, but Edgar decided to wait on Munhoz. El Terror felt that Edgar was dodging the fight. A matchup between the two could bring a little heat.
The other option would be the biggest one the UFC could make on name recognition. How about a fight with former bantamweight champion, Dominick Cruz (22-3)? Cruz is coming off of a title fight loss to Henry Cejudo at UFC 249.
The two men are legends of the sport, and it would make for an extremely interesting matchup. The winner could likely jump right back to a UFC title shot. If I’m Dana White, I would start with this one, but if I’m a fight fan, I’d be happy to see Edgar fight either one of Rivera or Cruz next.