This Just In: Frankie Edgar is one tough motherfucker

Okay first of all, how come none of you told us that Frankie Edgar has a podcast? Did you not think that we would enjoy that? Did you somehow think a show called “Champ and the Tramp,” wherein Frankie and some other dude sit in matching leather chairs beneath black and white photos of themselves with a New Jersey poster hanging in between them, was something we would NOT want to know about? Because if so, dog, you got us fucked up.

Fortunately, this story clued us into the show’s existence just in time for episode 100, which sees Edgar return from UFC 268 with stitches in his tongue to discuss his knockout loss to Marlon Vera. And do you know what we learned? We learned that Frankie Edgar is as tough as armadillo shit. Though, in fairness, we already kind of knew that.

But still! The 40-year-old former UFC champ revealed on this podcast that, without revealing it to the public, he went and had hip replacement surgery in April. As in, April of this year. That means he fought Cory Sandhagen in February, had a major joint in his body completely replaced two months later, then got back in the cage to fight another ranked bantamweight about six months after that. Which is, just in case you were unclear, pretty fucking bonkers.

Most people are doing good if they can return to their normal activities within a couple months of a hip replacement. Others can take five or six months just to get back to normal. And for most people? Normal is not fighting inside a goddamn cage for money. But Edgar apparently recovered from the surgery, got back in the gym, got back in fight shape, then showed up to Madison Square Garden ready to go toe-to-toe with “Chito” Vera. And also, he looked damn good for a 40-year-old bantamweight. Right up until the point he got Simpsons-ized by that front kick.

But see, the fact that Edgar is still in this game at all, much less still hanging around as a relevant force in a division two weight classes below the one where he became a UFC champion 11 years ago, that right there tells you he’s a special athlete in this sport. The more you listen to him discuss his present condition over a couple of tall boys, however, the more you realize what insane toughness and resiliency all that requires.

For starters, there’s the hip, which Edgar seems to realize he bounced back from with uncommon speed.

“A lot of people think you get something like that, it’s the end of something,” Edgar said. “And not only did I do it, I fucking did it quickly. And I felt amazing. My hip fucking felt amazing.”

But there’s also an issue with his back, Edgar added. Which is to say there has been an ongoing issue with his back for at least the last four years. During that time when he was struggling with nerve damage in his back that now extends all the way down to his foot, he fought: Yair Rodriguez, Brian Ortega, Cub Swanson, Max Holloway, Chan Sung Jung, Pedro Munhoz, Cory Sandhagen, and now Marlon Vera.

So basically, he’s been a middle-aged dad with a bad back and a deteriorating hip out here fighting these hitters across two different weight classes. I mean, look at that list above. You see any easy fights in there? You do not. The body has been breaking down, as it will do with time and overuse. Still he’s been fighting some of the baddest dudes out there, again and again.

This man has been in the UFC for close to 15 years without interruption. When Edgar made his UFC debut, in 2007? Fucking Tim Sylvia was still heavyweight champion. Anderson Silva was still considered the new middleweight champ. The event Edgar debuted on – UFC 67: All or Nothing (!!) – was the same event that Lyoto Machida debuted on. All these years later, Old Man Edgar is the one still in the UFC, still fighting ranked opponents, even as the bill for his chosen profession comes due in ways that are harder and harder to ignore.

So this is the point where we ask, how much longer can this possibly go on? Edgar’s not dumb. He knows he’s gotten to the point where retirement is going to be a question before and after every fight – especially when he loses.

“I don’t like being on this end, and it seems like I’m here often as of late,” he said. “So I’m being real about it, but I’m not gonna make a decision.”

Which is to say, if you’re waiting for some big announcement, you can forget it. Edgar’s just not that dude to make a big deal about hanging up the gloves, in part because he’s been around this sport long enough to know such announcements don’t always stick the first (or second or third) time. Instead, he explained, he’s going to take his time and lick his wounds and … then who knows.

With a dude like Edgar, whose superhuman toughness is both an asset and a liability beyond a certain point, maybe that’s the best you can hope for. Because the thing about this business is that you’ve got to be tough to last at all. Then there’s a select few who are so tough they can last for a long, long time.

But if you’re that kind of person – the dude who bounced right back from a hip replacement, or fought Max Holloway on a bad back, or got your face smashed by Gray Maynard while barely even noticing somehow – the downside is that you probably are not going to know when to quit. Because, honestly, if you knew that you wouldn’t have ever made it this far.

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