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[Weekly Q&A]

UFC’s Frankie Edgar talks rivalries, awards and taking last-minute fights

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Frankie Edgar will fight as a featherweight for the first time at UFC 156.
Photo: Johnny Hanson/Houston Chronicle

The 2012 Fighters Only World MMA Awards will go down Friday at the Hard Rock with one significant absence. Former UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar will not be among the fighting personalities packed into the Joint to commemorate last year’s mixed martial arts action. But Edgar, who won Fight of the Year in 2011 and was nominated for Fighter of the Year in 2010, has one heck of an excuse.

The New Jersey-based fighter is slaving away in preparation for the next UFC pay-per-view main event, where he will face 2009 Fighter of the Year Jose Aldo for the featherweight title Feb. 2 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center. “Being that I’m fighting here so soon, I don’t like traveling much before,” Edgar said.

Edgar could become only the third man in UFC history — following Randy Couture and B.J. Penn — to win championships in two weight classes. We caught up with Edgar between training sessions to talk UFC 156 and what he does with all those trophies.

UFC 156 is being billed as a superfight between two of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world. Do you have an extra level of excitement leading up to this one? This is my seventh straight title fight, so you get used to it. But I want to make every one as special as it can be. Going down to 145 (pounds) and having the belt on the line definitely makes it a little more motivating.

You’ve never fought at 145 pounds before. Are you worried about the weight cut? Will you do a test cut to make sure you can make it down without a problem? No, because I’m not that heavy. With the way I’m training, I’m already less than 10 pounds over, so we’re really not going to try that hard. I don’t think it will be an issue at all.

What did winning Fight of the Year — for a UFC 125 draw with Gray Maynard — mean to you last year? It’s always cool to be recognized for anything you do in the sport, especially at the MMA Awards. I think it’s a cool thing they do for the fighters and the fans. It’s our Oscars.

You must have quite a collection of belts and trophies by now. What do you do with all of the honors? I give some of them to my parents. I put some up at home. I’m not really big into putting them into one room or anything. I don’t have a trophy room yet, but I think in the future I’ll do something like that.

The favorites for Fight of the Year this time around are Dan Henderson’s unanimous-decision victory over Shogun Rua at UFC 139 and Michael Chandler’s fourth-round submission against Eddie Alvarez in a Bellator lightweight title bout. As the defending champion, what’s your pick? I’ve got to stick with my hometown boy and teammate. I’m giving it to Eddie for his fight.

Benson Henderson has a great chance to win Fighter of the Year. Given that both of his wins over you were controversial, do you think he’s undeserving? Nah, I have no bad blood with him or anything. I guess it’s just a little weird because the fights were against me, but that’s all.

Do you think you’ll ever renew the rivalries with Henderson and/or Maynard? I’m ready to move on for now, but you never know what the future holds. We had some great fights, and I’m sure the fans will be interested in seeing those again. But right now, I’m focused on the next one. We might make a rivalry out of this one, too.

Aldo’s talked about knocking you out and then moving up in weight to win another title. What did you think of those comments? Everyone’s got to motivate themselves in their own way. He hasn’t fought in a year, so I think maybe he forgets how it is to be in there and needs to motivate himself. But he’s got something coming if he thinks this is going to be an easy fight.

What challenges does Aldo present? He’s a great striker, fast and explosive. He’s got great knees and great kicks. He might be the most dynamic striker we have in the sport, right there next to Anderson Silva.

You originally took this fight on short notice last year when Aldo’s original opponent, Erik Koch, came down with an injury. One of the major storylines in MMA in 2012 was fighters refusing to take late-replacement spots. Why did you say yes? It’s case-by-case. I can’t say you should take every fight on short-notice or you shouldn’t. In reality, I was coming off the second Henderson fight and I wasn’t injured. I was in the gym helping my teammates train, so it was good timing for me. With the opportunity itself, it was hard to pass up.

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