The Great Debate: Frankie Edgar vs Yair Rodriguez

UFC 211 is so stacked that we decided to do something big for the Great Debate series. We have decided to do a Great Debate for all five of the main card fights. We also wanted to invite other members of the media to be part of the fun. So we will have five staff members of The MMA Takeover go head to head against five members of the MMA media world. Each day we will debate a different fight.

First up was Justin Peck, who is the Vice President of the MMA Takeover against MMA handicapper, Stars Prophet. They debated Sergio Pettis vs Henry Cejudo. Now we shift our focus to Frankie Edgar vs Yair Rodriguez. We have The MMA Takeover staff writer, Cory Groenveld arguing for Edgar. He will be matched against MMA freelance writer Ben Lewis.

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 Why Frankie Edgar Wins (By Cory Groeneveld):

UFC 211 is upon us! On paper, this looks to be one of the greatest cards in the history of the sport.  All five fights on the main card feature big names including two title fights, plus a loaded prelim card. One of the more interesting fights in my opinion on the main card is Frankie Edgar vs Yair Rodriguez. As it stands Frankie Edgar is a slight favorite according to oddsmakers in Vegas. Although the favorite, many people are high on up and coming Yair Rodriguez. Odds set aside this really is a fight that could either way. Who to pick though? I am going to dig in and show you why I think Frankie Edgar takes down Yair Rodriguez.

 A lot of people are counting Edgar out even though he is the favorite. I’ve heard he is past his prime, washed out, and has a weak chin (though he has never been knocked out before). If there was ever a fighter to not count out it’s this guy. Edgar is still hungry for another shot at the title. The former lightweight champion seemed to be at the end of his prime when he would go on to lose three straight fights (though all were razor close decisions that could have gone either way) including his championship belt to Benson Henderson. Just as soon as you count this guy out he starts to prove people wrong. Since losing those three fights in a row Edgar has gone on to win six out of his last 7 fights. This includes wins over Charles Oliveira, B.J. Penn, Cub Swanson, Urijah Faber, Chad Mendes, and most recently Jeremy Stephens. So, the drive to be the best is still there.

This is your typical new school vs old school fight. You have the veteran in Edgar going against up and rising fighter Rodriguez. Rodriguez only has six UFC fight under his belt. I personally think the lack of experience will come back to hurt Rodriguez.  If there is one thing we have learned over the years of watching the UFC is when they rush some talent such as Rodriguez it can not end well. They get a big time fight a little too early and end up trying to prove themselves quicker than they need to. I think that’s what is happening here. Rodriguez has a lot of talent but could use another fight or two before taking on someone as experienced and skilled as Frankie Edgar. I believe this will favor Edgar in a big way.

 The first thing we will look at is striking. This is one area that I will give a slight edge to Rodriguez. Although don’t count Frankie Edgar out if it does become a fist fight. Edgar can be a very patient fighter at times. We know that Rodriguez can be a wild fighter throwing fists everywhere. This will open some holes for Edgar to take advantage. I don’t expect Edgar to take this route but the opportunity could be there. Being patient will be key though. Rodriguez will have a three-inch reach advantage and on average lands a half a strike per minute more than Edgar. Edgar has the extremely underrated footwork and has always found a way to get into the pocket, where he lands his best shots.  

 Finally, we will look at grappling. Edgar is considered a supreme wrestler by some experts. Edgar likes to use his skills to apply pressure and go for the takedown. This will come in handy if this fight goes more than one round and Rodriguez starts to show some fatigue. Look for Edgar to apply pressure and go for the takedown and control the fight on the mat. He may not get the submission but if can have this fight go all 3 rounds and control it from the mat there isn’t much hope for Rodriguez. Rodriguez has shown good takedown defense but hasn’t faced a fighter who has the wrestling skills like Edgar. Expect Edgar to take advantage of his wrestling skills and control this fight from the mat.

The biggest things is Edgar has already proven to be able to handle all the strengths that Rodriguez has. Rodriguez kicks will be limited due to the fact that Edgar can catch a kick and land a takedown. Though Rodriguez has great speed and athleticism, does he have more than a prime B.J. Penn had when he lost the belt to Edgar. I keep hearing about the size advantage of Rodriguez, did people forget that Edgar was the champion at lightweight, a whole weight class above what this fight is at? He has spent his entire career giving up large amounts of size.

Lastly, Edgar has fought some of the greatest fighters of all time, BJ Penn (in his prime), Benson Henderson, Jose Aldo Jr, Sean Sherk, etc. Who has Rodriguez beaten? An extremely washed up Penn? Alex Caceres? Charles Rosa (though many thought he lost). Let him beat a top 10 fighter before we pick him over somebody of Edgar’s class.

Prediction time. I like this fight to go the distance. I see Rodriguez coming out and swinging in the first round trying to get that open round stoppage. Making a big statement will be on Rodriguez’s mind and I think that will hurt him. He is going to waste a lot of energy in that first round. He may even win round 1, but I expect Edgar to absorb the punches and push this fight all 3 rounds. Look for Edgar to put the pressure on in rounds 2 and 3 and turn this into a wrestling match. Edgar should be able to control most of the fight on the mat. Experience, skill, and drive will prevail. I predict Frankie Edgar winning by unanimous decision.

Why Yair Rodriguez Wins (By Ben Lewis)
As the saying goes, “time waits for no man” & every so often there comes a fight which pits two fighters from different generations against one another inside the Octagon. This coming weekend we have a fight that epitomizes just that. Thee up and coming Mexican phenom Yair Rodriguez faces a UFC stalwart, New Jersey’s own Frankie Edgar. Many would argue that Rodriguez’ last victory, a 2nd round TKO win over Hall of Famer BJ Penn, was a seminal moment for the sport of Mixed Martial Arts. However, Penn, though once a great, was simply too far over the hill to be considered any type of challenge for Rodriguez in any way. Conversely, this weekend’s fight with Edgar provides MMA fans with a real opportunity to witness the torch being passed from one generation to another. Much like when Jon Jones viciously defeated Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua to claim UFC LHW gold in 2011.
Frankie Edgar is a veteran of the UFC’s lightweight & featherweight divisions, a previous lightweight champion who is still relevant in the UFC’s current 145lb title. However, he meets Yair Rodriguez at a time when the Mexican is at his most dangerous. Fresh off a destruction of a MMA legend, Rodriguez is looking for another big scalp and he possesses the perfect skill set with which to convincingly defeat Frankie Edgar & make a serious statement to the UFC’s featherweight division that he is very much in the title picture himself. Rodriguez’ array of offensive weapons is not simply limited to the wide arsenal of kicks, which he implements with flawless technique and absurd regularity, he also possesses an extremely well-rounded game that will allow him to systematically pick apart Edgar at every turn.
Using his massive reach advantage he will likely use his jab and leg kicks, in particular, the oblique kick, to keep Edgar on the outside as the only threat Edgar poses to the Mexican comes in the pocket. Rodriguez’ varied and frequent use of spinning techniques will keep Edgar guessing at all times and likely negate Edgar’s movement, which against other fighters is his best weapon. Rodriguez has such a size advantage that it is highly unlikely that Edgar will get him to the ground at all, let alone hold him there. Should he be able to do that it’s hard to foresee his strategy being anything more than simply laying and praying for the decision. However it’s unlikely the fight makes it to the final bell as Yair Rodriguez possesses far too much firepower for even Frankie Edgar’s famed chin to withstand and will likely finish the future Hall of Famer inside 2 rounds in what will be remembered as a seminal moment in MMA history, the torch truly passing from one generation to the next. Yair Rodriguez by 2nd round TKO


We thank Ben Lewis for participating in this series. Make sure to follow him on Twitter @BenLew902

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