Why it needed to happen: Because the undefeated Maynard had arguably the more impressive list of victims, yet Edgar was given the title shot. Oh yeah, and Maynard’s list of victims included Edgar himself.
How it happened: Not unlike Major Benson Winifred Payne’s tale of the little engine that could, Frankie Edgar faced plenty of opposition in his second title defense, nearly getting decapitated in the first round by a particularly brutal series of Maynard uppercuts. But do you think that stopped him? HELL NO! Edgar would rally back over the next 4 rounds, fighting his way to a unanimous draw, which may not sound like much, but considering the first round, was damn near superhero-like.
What it proved: That Frankie Edgar can take a f*cking beating, son. It would also be the second time in the champ’s career that an immediate rematch would be called for, which would in turn set up…
Why it needed to happen: Because we needed some Goddamn closure.
How it happened: After handing out the second worst first round beating of the champion’s life, Maynard would again find himself on the wrong end of an Edgar comeback, this time via a fourth round KO. It would be Maynard’s first professional loss and undoubtedly Edgar’s biggest win.
What it proved: That Edgar had truly evolved more as a fighter than Maynard since the pairs initial meeting, and deserved to be called the champion. “The Answer’s” title run had been shadowed by doubt at every turn up to this point, and with his win over Maynard, Edgar was finally given some breathing room, and a spot on many MMA pundit’s top pound-for-pound lists.
Why it needed to happen: Say what you want about Faber’s somewhat quick turnaround in between title shots, but being that he was the only blemish on the record of the otherwise untouchable (literally and figuratively) Dominick Cruz, it seemed appropriate to match them up again. Urijah had already been beat out of the featherweight division, and looked great in his wins over Takeya Mizugaki and Eddie Wineland, so what the hell.
How it happened: An epic back and forth brawl that was immediately labeled by fans and critic alike as a Fight of the Year candidate. Though Faber was able to land the more significant shots, it was Cruz who was able to do so more often and with more consistency. Add to that the 4 to 1 takedown advantage in Cruz’s favor, and it was enough for the champ to walk away with yet another unanimous decision nod.
What it proved: Besides proving that the lower weight classes could draw just as big a crowd as the big boys, Faber/Cruz 2 gave us a glimpse of how to solve the riddle that is “The Dominator.” Constant pressure. It allowed Faber to throw a fighter even as quick and elusive as Cruz off his game, a strategy that Demetrious Johnson would utilize to some success in his battle with Cruz at UFC Live 6. And now that the two have signed on as next season’s TUF coaches, we can expect five more rounds of certified awesomeness in the not too distant future.