Frankie Edgar eyeing Madison Square Garden retirement bout at UFC 281, likes Dominick Cruz for final opponent

MMA Fighting

Frankie Edgar can see the end of the road.

As first reported by TSN via Edgar’s manager Ali Abdelaziz, the former UFC lightweight champion and three-division contender confirmed in an interview with ESPN that he is aiming to compete for the last time at UFC 281, which is expected to take place at Madison Square Garden in New York on Nov. 12.

“I think that would be cool,” Edgar said. “It would be a pretty cool sendoff at Madison Square Garden, it’s pretty much in my backyard. I trained up in Renzo’s for so many years, it would be a pretty cool sendoff.”

Edgar, a native of Toms River, N.J., has lost four of his past five fights. His past two outings have ended in brutal knockouts at the hands of Marlon Vera and Cory Sandhagen. Though Edgar was competitive in his fight with Vera, a front kick to the face put an end to the fight in the third round.

With a venue in mind, Edgar is also entertaining the idea of a legacy fight with fellow future UFC Hall of Famer Dominick Cruz, who is set to fight Vera on Aug. 13.

“I’m never one to call anybody out or pick anybody, I usually let the UFC and Ali kind of figure that out,” Edgar said. “But I’ll say a name just because I think it’s more of a legacy fight and I know he has a fight coming up and who knows how it could happen, but I think Dominick Cruz. He was a champion at 135 when I was the champion at 155. We were both pretty much top of the division, I think that could be an interesting fight.”

Over the stretch of a UFC run that dates back to 2007, Edgar became UFC lightweight champion, thrice challenged for featherweight gold, and scored a win over Pedro Munhoz in a bantamweight bout to record victories in three different divisions.

Edgar says that his decision to retire has as much to do with the wishes of his loved ones as his own.

“I’ve been kind of kicking the idea of retirement around since my last fight,” Edgar said. “The last couple of fights obviously didn’t go the way I wanted them to, but me, if I’m being honest I’d fight forever, you know? But that’s kind of selfish to my family and the people that care about me, so I think I need to kind of announce my retirement, have a retirement so I can sail off into the sunset a little bit.”

Amid the Vera and Sandhagen fights in 2021, Edgar says he had a pair of surgeries to improve his quality of life, but that he does not believe they affected his fight preparation or performance. He added that he is feeling well physically and spiritually and that he is determined to make his retirement stick when the gloves are finally laid down.

Even so, Edgar plans to stay involved in MMA.

“I guess it’s bittersweet,” Edgar said. “It’s got to happen, I’m 40 years old, looking at 41 in a couple of months. I feel great though. I don’t feel tired going to the gym. I’m not that guy.

“I heard [Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone] saying, he just recently retired, ‘Say goodbye to abs, say goodbye to working out.’ I’m not that guy. I like working out, I like looking good. It’s a little vanity, but still, I enjoy this life. It’s not work to me. So it’s going to be tough walking away. I’ll always be in this sport, regardless.”

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