Whether you were pulling for Frankie “The Answer” Edgar or Chad “Money” Mendes, nobody saw this fight ending the way it did: Edgar sending Chad Mendes to the mat after connecting on a vicious right cross. If anyone was going to win this fight by knockout, it was supposed to be Mendes. He’s demonstrated his pure knockout power time and time again, tearing through the featherweight division when his wrestling couldn’t do the trick.
As FOX Sports 1 analyst and UFC Champion Daniel Cormier said after the fight, a fight between two expert wrestlers tends to be more of a stand-up fight, surprisingly. Mendes has never lost a boxing-style fight. Even though his loss to Conor McGregor was also a result of some serious striking power, it came after a round and a half of exhaustive grappling and wrestling. McGregor simply outlasted Mendes.
Mendes isn’t known for getting knocked out. And Frankie Edgar isn’t known for his knockouts. Even his May bout with a seriously outclassed Urijah Faber was a 25 minute-long, dragged out affair. Doubting Edgar’s punching power is not a knock against Frankie, it’s simply an observation of his fighting style. He grinds his opponents down to a pulp.
However, on the night of UFC’s “The Ultimate Fighter” Finale, it was a completely different story. Edgar looked quick, crisp and technical. Edgar waited for Mendes to make the first move, before unloading time and time again with surprising efficiency. The audience seemed set for a few rounds of some action-packed brawling, when out of nowhere “The Answer” slipped two punches through Mendes’ defense and sent him to the canvas. Referee John McCarthy stepped in before Frankie Edgar had a chance to throw another punch; Edgar had done what he had needed to do. Game, set, match.
With this fight, the electrifying Frankie Edgar has all but guaranteed a title fight with the winner of tomorrow’s highly anticipated Conor McGregor vs. Jose Aldo bout. If anything, today was a sort of audition for the next UFC featherweight championship. Both of these fighters have lost to Jose Aldo, and Mendes’ performance vs. Conor McGregor was admirable considering he fought on only two weeks’ notice. However, while both deserved an audition for a second chance, only one can step into the ring with either Aldo or McGregor. That man is now Frankie Edgar.