Frankie Edgar caught BJ Penn by surprise yet again, at UFC 118, and retained his lightweight belt in his first title defense. The Ricardo Cachorrão Jiu-Jitsu purple belt recently spoke with GRACIEMAG.com correspondent Nalty Jr. Check out this exclusive chat and get to know more about the under 155-lb number-1.
What was your childhood like?
Ever since I was a child I always had a thing for fighting. At six years of age I was already practicing fighting around my neighborhood. Fighting was definitely a sport to me.
What’s more difficult, conquering the belt or keeping it?
In my opinion, keeping the belt is the harder part. Conquering it is hard, too; it’s certainly a long way to the top. But after you have the belt and are champion, everyone wants to take it from you. Keeping the belt is much more complicated.
How do you deal with all the fame that comes with being champion?
Attention from the fans is a bit stronger than it was before. A lot of fans stop me to talk and take photos, a lot more than before. I learned to deal with the fame. I feel that I’m going to get more famous, and I’m progressively learning how to deal with that. I just can’t lose focus in training because the most important thing for a fighter’s career is training, improving your performance and winning fights. Otherwise, all this attention from the public comes to an end.
What was your toughest fight, trickiest opponent?
BJ, he was my toughest opponent.
What do you think of the other fighters in your division right now?
It’s a division with a lot of talent, one of the most stacked. There are really competitive fighters, all tough guys.
Do you feel having a good strategy is the most important part to winning in MMA?
It’s really important to have a good strategy because we have to play our game and not get caught in our opponent’s. Strategy might not be a guarantee of victory, but it is surely a fundamental part to winning.
Are your wrestling skills solid enough to fight on the ground?
You have to respect Jiu-Jitsu. My wrestling is good for taking my opponent down, but if you fight a Jiu-Jitsu guy and don’t now Jiu-Jitsu, you’ll definitely have problems.
You train with a lot of Brazilian black belts, among them Ricardo Cachorrão and Renzo Gracie. What is that relationship like?
Cachorrão is like my brother. He’s been great for my career and has been the best thing for me. Everyone I met through Jiu-Jitsu, the whole Gracie family, is a great person. I’ve never been to Brazil, I just know it through what Ricardo tells me, that it’s a beautiful country. We have to plan a trip to Brazil n the future.
What did you think of Renzo’s MMA return?
I thought it was great. Renzo is an ambassador for the sport, a good guy to everybody. Everywhere, everyone loves Renzo. That’s great for the sport. He’s a legend.
In my mind, I’m always going to win. I’m really competitive” Frankie Edgar
You grew up as part of your school wrestling team in the USA. In Abu Dhabi Jiu-Jitsu has been implanted in schools. What do you think of that?
It’s great to have some kind of martial art in school. I consider wrestling a martial art, as is Jiu-Jitsu. It’s really good for little kids to learn these arts because it teaches discipline and confidence. It’s really cool that they teach Jiu-Jitsu in school in Abu Dhabi. I’d like to see schools teaching it in America, as well.
Do you feel more pressure to win the fight or put on a show for the fans?
In my mind, I’m always going to win, because I’m really competitive. I always think that if I do my game and put my plan to practice it will be good training. I’m a fighter who always fights on the attack.
How would you describe yourself?
I’m a family man, have two kids. I definitely put family first.
What’s the secret to your physical conditioning?
I train a lot, train hard. I think that is much more mental than anything else. You have to train a lot and have a strong mind.
What’s your motivation? What will it take to get even better?
My motivation is just to win, I think… My family also motivates me. I have to improve my ability in finishing fights. That’s the main part that I need to improve on in my game. I’m trying to work on my game so I can sink holds and finish.
What are your thoughts on the direction MMA has taken?
MMA is my favorite sport. I’m not interested in any other sport like baseball, football, basketball… I think MMA has the best athletes in the world and the sport is on the right path. But I also think some things will change at the right time. It’s such a new sport that we’re learning as time goes by. Ten or fifteen years from now it will be really different and I hope it’s for the better. The more attention the media gives us, the better. It’s possible that MMA will become the most popular sport in the world from one minute to the next.
Nothing comes easy, overnight” Frank Edgar
What would you tell someone who wants to be a champion like you?
What I have to say is that you have to work hard and be dedicated. Nothing comes easy, overnight. One really needs to invest time in it. If you really want to become a champion you need lots of dedication.
And what do you have to say to your fans?
Thanks for the support. You’re the best fans in the world!
Boston, Massachusetts, EUA
August 28, 2010
Frankie Edgar defeated BJ Penn via unanimous decision
Randy Couture submitted James Toney via arm triangle at 3:19 min of R1
Demian Maia defeated Mario Miranda via unanimous decision
Gray Maynard defeated Kenny Florian via unanimous decision
Nate Diaz submitted Marcus Davis via guillotine at 4:02 min of R3
Joe Lauzon submitted Gabe Ruediger via armbar at 2:01 min of R2
Nik Lentz defeated Andre Winner via unanimous decision
Dan Miller submitted John Salter via arm triangle at 1:53 min of R2
Greg Soto defeated Nick Osipczak via unanimous decision
Mike Pierce submitted Almicar Alves via armbar at 3:11 min of R3