UFC great Frankie Edgar knocked out MSG in final fight

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NEW YORK – Former UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar lost the last fight of his MMA career when he was dropped by Chris Gutierrez 2:01 into the first round of their fight at Madison Square Garden on Saturday evening.

Edgar, 41, took a knee to the head at UFC 281 for a brutal knockout loss in his last time in the cage in a career that began in 2005. Gutierrez and Edgar hugged for a long time after the dramatic finish in the 135-pound fight that calmed another packed crowd at MSG.

A native of New Jersey, Edgar finished his career at 24-11-1 overall and 18-11-1 in the UFC.

Edgar entered the night with a UFC record 7 hours, 55 minutes and 9 seconds of total fight time. His 1,799 major strikes were second-best and 73 takedowns were fourth on the career list.

“Ladies and gentlemen, this is the last fight of his illustrious Hall of Fame career,” octagon announcer Bruce Buffer told a roaring crowd.

The introductions to a packed house that included Sylvester Stallone and Mike Tyson were about as long as the fight.

“I have my family here,” said a crestfallen Edgar. “It’s all that matters.”

Israel Adesanya defends his middleweight title against Brazilian knockout artist Alex Pereira in the main event of UFC 281 at Madison Square Garden. Pereira holds a 2-0 record against Adesanya, but both wins came in their kickboxing days. Adesanya is set to defend his 185-pound crown for the sixth time. Pereira is undefeated in three UFC fights.

Dustin Poirier also faces Michael Chandler in a lightweight bout, and Dan Hooker scored a TKO win over Claudio Puelles at 4:06 of round two of the first fight on the main card.

The card fell on the 29th anniversary of the first Ultimate Fighting Championship event held in Denver and six years to the day of the first UFC card at Madison Square Garden. New York became the latest state to legalize mixed martial arts cards and it opened the door to some of the richest cards in UFC history at MSG and Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

UFC Hall of Famer Royce Gracie won three fights that night in Denver in a no-rules tournament that was just the start of a business that now bills itself as the world leader in mma.

“3 fights in one night, no time limit, no weight division, no gloves, no rules,” Gracie posted on Instagram.

A fan favorite, Edgar has seen the evolution of the UFC as much as any fighter since his 2007 debut in the company. The UFC has one year left on a five-year, $1.5 billion deal with ESPN that seemed as inconceivable in 2007 as it did in 1993. Edgar, of Toms River, New Jersey, held the lightweight championship for almost two years from 2010 to 2012.

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