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Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2012 | 2 a.m.
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When it comes to fighting the same opponent twice in a row, the 30-year-old former champion from New Jersey is the UFC’s authority.
“Sometimes in rematches, it matters who makes the best adjustments,” Edgar said. “At this level, fights are so close it’s sometimes who shows up that night and performs better.”
Edgar participates in an immediate rematch for the third consecutive time at UFC 150 on Saturday in Denver. He looks to take the lightweight championship belt away from Ben Henderson, who captured the title by winning a unanimous decision over Edgar six months ago in Japan.
The situation differs from Edgar’s episodes with Gray Maynard and B.J. Penn because, of course, he’ll enter the second fight with Henderson as the challenger. But more importantly, it’s different because this bout could represent a crossroads for Edgar’s career.
He had to beg UFC President Dana White for the opportunity. Even though White relented because of “everything (Edgar’s) done for this company,” he wasn’t overjoyed with making the fight for a couple of reasons.
One, it keeps the clogged lightweight division on the same lockdown it hasn’t broke out of since Edgar began his procession of rematches two years ago. But White is more frustrated because he would prefer Edgar to fight at featherweight, his natural division.
He unsuccessfully tried to persuade Edgar to drop down for a bout against 145-pound champion Jose Aldo after the loss to Henderson. White will have more of a pull if Henderson wins again because Edgar will find himself far away from another title shot.
Edgar offers little insight into a possible switch of weight classes but knows winning is the easiest way to stay where he wants.
“There’s some more incentive coming into a rematch after you lose the last fight,” Edgar said. “You want to go in there with the mentality to take it.”
Edgar claims he has no secrets for improving when meeting an opponent for the second time. He said the process remained getting in the gym, making slight adjustments and enhancing fundamentals.
Despite studying tape, Henderson can’t pinpoint the reason for Edgar’s success the second time, either. But the champion will offer a few ideas.
“We all know he is better in rematches,” Henderson said. “His coaches are great. They always put together a great game plan for rematches and finding weaknesses and holes in previous opponents.”
Henderson expected Edgar to come into UFC 150 “hungrier, tougher and smarter.” Henderson has remembered that during his own training sessions ahead of the bout.
Edgar may plead ignorance, but fighters such as Henderson know he gets tougher the second time.
“There’s really no advantage,” Edgar said. “I was in there with him not too long ago, but he was also in there with me. He saw what I brought to the table. I saw what he brought to the table.”