BURBANK — With the Super Bowl quickly approaching and the buzz building, the Ultimate Fighting Championship began its own big week of building buzz on Monday, as well.
As has become an annual tradition since 2005, the UFC will put on a big night with a big fight on the eve of the big game.
And on Saturday night at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Frankie Edgar will challenge UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo in the main event of UFC 156: Aldo vs. Edgar.
Edgar and members of his fight camp stopped by Burbank on Monday afternoon to commence fight week, as the former UFC lightweight champion joined members of the media at Morton's The Steakhouse ahead of his title challenge.
The card carries a bit of nostalgic value for the New Jersey native, as his UFC debut six years ago came on the Super Bowl card from Vegas at the same Mandalay Bay.
"That definitely means something to me," Edgar said. "[I am] just thankful and blessed to be where I'm at right now.
"Here we are [six] years down the road."
In 2007, Edgar made his UFC debut as the third fight of a card headlined by the likes of Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, Mirko "Crocop" Filopovic and Anderson Silva. But Edgar and opponent Tyson Griffin stole the show, with Edgar winning a furious fight via unanimous decision over the favored Griffin with both of them taking fight of the night honors.
Now, Edgar (15-3-1) will compete in his seventh straight championship bout.
He upset BJ Penn in April 2010 for the UFC lightweight title, then had three successful title defenses before losing consecutive fights to current champion Benson Henderson. Both were razor-thin decisions.
"I was definitely upset," said Edgar of the controversial decisions going against him. "I just have to go back into the gym and figure out a way to be more dominant."
But nobody in the UFC has been dominant against Aldo (21-1), as the reigning 145-pound champion has won 14-straight bouts and has finished 15 of his career fights.
"He mixes [his attack] up well," said Edgar, who will fight for the first time at 145 pounds Saturday after a career at 155 in which he rarely cut more than a few pounds to make weight as opposed to his opponents cutting far more. "He's fast and very explosive."
Aldo has built a reputation as a dangerous striker and a dominant champion, while Edgar, seemingly always an undersized underdog, sports a resume littered with arduous battles against the likes of Penn, Henderson, Griffin and Gray Maynard.
"I've definitely been in some scraps," Edgar said.
And he expects more of the same on Saturday.
"I don't expect any fight to be easy," Edgar said.
Should Edgar prevail, he'll put himself into UFC chronicle as only the third fighter to win a championship in two weight classes, joining Randy Couture and Penn.
But Edgar is far from getting caught up in anything of the sort.
"I'm not really trying to look to that," Edgar said. "I'm just worried about winning my next fight and if I do, everything else will take care of itself."
"It would be an honor to be mentioned with them."
For all the titles and honors that Edgar has claimed and might claim again, though, in seven years of putting on unforgettable UFC bouts, it's the tenacity of the talented fighter that may loom largest.
"I'm willing to go in there and get into it," Edgar said. "If you want to win sometimes, you have to get a little to give a little."
For more information on UFC 156, visit www.ufc.com.