Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Sunday, July 7, 2013 | 2:05 a.m.
Frankie Edgar persevered through a couple of the most memorable battles in UFC history by zoning everything else out and concentrating on his trainers’ instructions.
The former lightweight champion knew they were yelling advice as always Saturday night in the third round of a seesaw slugfest against Charles Oliveira. There was just one problem.
“Couldn’t even hear my corner because it was so loud,” Edgar said.
The co-main event of UFC 162 delivered in a way the promotion wishes every fight that fills that role could do, providing nonstop action and riling up the crowd before the headlining bout. Edgar’s unanimous-decision victory (30-27, 30-27, 29-28) over Oliveira in the featherweight contest ended up scoring the two competitors a $50,000 Fight of the Night bonus.
It was the least UFC President Dana White could do after he, sitting cageside, identified himself as one of the culprits for the disconnected line of communication between Edgar and his corner.
“I was cheering because it was a great fight,” White said. “Both guys fought with a lot of heart.”
The fight started in a manner that’s typical for any contest involving Edgar, with a breakneck pace and nearly too-close-to-call combat. Edgar had an edge in volume by piecing together crisp boxing combinations, but Oliveira struck with more power.
After a second round that could have conceivably gone to either fighter — Oliveira started strong and bloodied Edgar’s face before fading a bit in the final minutes — Edgar refused to feel comfortable.
He had lost three straight fights coming into UFC 162 via controversial decisions and wanted to make a conscious effort not to let the judges get involved this time. Edgar unleashed his right hand in third round and staggered Oliveira multiple times, which initially prompted the deafening roar at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
“I thought I had him hurt,” Edgar said. “I was really trying to finish him.”
It didn’t work, but Edgar found himself staying in the octagon a little longer to celebrate for the first time since beating Gray Maynard at UFC 136 nearly two years ago.
Oliveira limped toward the locker room wiping tears from his eyes.
“I fought a former champion and he got the best of me,” Oliveira said through a translator.
Despite dropping weight classes, Edgar continues to look undersized. Edgar described it as difficult to navigate against Oliveira’s four-inch height advantage.
Oliveira, also a former lightweight, was as much as 20 pounds heavier than Edgar on fight night. White said several people ran over to him during the fight to suggest Edgar drop to bantamweight.
Edgar joked he’d rather retire than go down to the 135-pound class. It didn’t sound like he had anything to worry about Saturday.
The fans’ reaction showed they just want to watch him fight, regardless of the circumstances.
“I definitely fed off of that tonight,” Edgar said.