Edgar’s fate comes down to Fight Night 59

Despite Frankie Edgar's win Saturday, the final decision as to who Jose Aldo Jr. could face next may come on Jan. 18, the evening when Conor McGregor will face off against Denis Siver. (Michael Thomas/AP)

For many in the world of MMA, a variety of questions were answered over the weekend, as the UFC held their Fight Night in Austin, Texas. Unfortunately, as is often the case, the MMA math does not always provide the obvious solution.

Business before sport

With his victory over Cub Swanson, former lightweight champion Frankie "The Answer" Edgar undoubtedly proved he should be next in line for a crack at featherweight kingpin Jose Aldo Jr.

Edgar landed seven takedowns, 259 strikes — 90 of which were significant — en route to finishing off Swanson with just four seconds left in the fight; a 24:56 blue-collar effort ending with a rear-naked choke and a new record for the latest finish in a UFC bout.

Yeoman’s work for the New Jersey native and from an MMA purist’s perspective, a well-earned title shot.

But it’s a bout we have already seen before and the UFC is a business, not a sport, so the final decision as to who Aldo could face next may come on Jan. 18, the evening when Conor McGregor will face off against Denis Siver.

Without losing sight of the business versus sport argument, the assumption is that more money can be made from a potential Aldo-McGregor showdown than a rematch between Aldo and Edgar which, by most accounts, is a scrap that has likely already been written on the UFC’s matchmaking white board as "tentative."

To some a disparity, to others a reality; such is the fight game. If Siver pulls off the upset, Frankie gets the title shot. If Conor wins, Edgar may have to sit and wait for his shot, or take at least one more bout instead.

The journey to remain relevant

Such is also the dilemma that top flyweight contender Joseph Benavidez faces.

He also emerged victorious on Saturday night, pulling off a three-round victory over a game Dustin Ortiz, but one has to wonder how much it has done for his title aspirations.

Benavidez is stuck in an MMA no-man’s land; he is one of the world’s best at 125 pounds, the unfortunate No. 2 to current champion Demetrious Johnson. Benavidez is 9-2 in his last 11 bouts, with those two defeats suffered solely at the hands of "Mighty Mouse."

It could take a fair amount of work before the UFC grants Benavidez another shot at Johnson, so "Beefcake’s" current workload consists of constantly remaining relevant, disposing of would-be contenders and maintaining his ranking as the top contender at flyweight.

Peculiar placing of VanZant

The highlight for many, though, was the debut of strawweight Paige VanZant.

The peculiar placing of VanZant on the Fight Pass exclusive prelims was likely a calculated measure by the UFC. For starters, one would assume they would have showcased her on the main card or broadcast prelims instead, an avenue that would help grow her brand.

Instead, the only way you could see her anticipated debut was to watch on Fight Pass. Maybe her name and the specific placement on the prelims was a strategic move to drive traffic to the site while perhaps garnering a few more subscriptions in the process. It’s an interesting balance between promoting a future star on television versus doing so to raise the subscription base of the streaming service.

I could be way out in left field, but it was just a thought I pondered leading up to the show and especially during the bout, as I watched Paige put forth an outstanding performance. She stayed busy the whole time, in every position, whether it be standing, in the clinch or on the ground, until the referee finally had enough, stopping her bout versus Kailin Curran at 2:54 of the third round.

Hindsight is 20/20, so only the UFC will know if it was a good decision. VanZant earned the TKO victory and an additional $50K for "Fight of the Night."

How many people saw the fight is a question to which we will never get the answer. Did more see it on Fight Pass than would have if her bout placement was on the televised prelims or perhaps the main card?

The bottom line is simple: make sure you get maximum return on your investment, which Zuffa has done quite well since flipping the brand from its original $2 million purchase to over $2 billion. They know what they are doing, while I simply enjoy analyzing it.

Anyway, did I mention it’s a business yet?

Miscellaneous thoughts

The rest of the card was a fun one to consume. Edson Barboza defeated Bobby Green, a victory that should see the Brazilian crack the lightweight top 10.

Heavyweight Oleksiy Oliynyk served notice that despite taking a bruising from Jared Rosholt, he is (like most heavyweights) one punch or, in this case, one combination from ending the fight in a flash. He may not have raised as many eyebrows as you think, but as the highlight-reel finish makes it’s way into the stream of UFC pre-fight marketing, people will quickly be reminded that the Russian packs some serious power when he begins throwing bombs.

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