Frankie Edgar: McGregor talking like he has title, but don't forget me
The featherweight division has never been more alive with contenders, as Cub Swanson rides a six-fight win streak into this weekend's card in Austin while Irish bad boy Conor McGregor continues to be the rock star of the 145-pound weight class.
But somehow former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar got lost in the mix.
It might have happened because Edgar sat out most of the last year while coaching "The Ultimate Fighter." It also didn't help matters much that instead of facing a who's who list of featherweights, Edgar was matched up with B.J. Penn for a third fight after having beaten him on two occasions.
Edgar handled business and dispatched Penn in even more dominant fashion, and the UFC rewarded him with a main event fight this weekend. The matchup pits the No. 2-ranked fighter in the division, Swanson, against the No. 3, Edgar. A title shot going to the winner seems obvious to Edgar.
"If you go by rankings, it's a no-brainer," Edgar told FOX Sports. "Plus Cub was promised a title shot and he decided to fight another fight before his title shot. You would think if I beat the guy who has next, I would get the title shot."
Edgar would like to believe that if he wins on Saturday night, he'll leave the Octagon and UFC president Dana White will be waiting in the back with a signed contract for him to face champion Jose Aldo next, but he knows that probably won't happen.
Instead, Edgar knows even with a win he's probably competing against McGregor for the next shot at the belt, despite the Irish newcomer's lack of experience against top fighters in the division.
Edgar never has been a fighter to talk trash about somebody, and discussing McGregor is no exception. He speaks honestly and believes McGregor's just not there quite yet.
"There's a lot of unknown about him," Edgar said. "I thought Dustin (Poirier) could have been the guy to get us to know more about Conor, but (McGregor) went in there and handled his business. I'm not going to be the guy to say Conor's not good. He's obviously good. He's been in there with some good guys and he's handled them, but I think there is still some unknown about him.
"He's a hell of a self-promoter. That sells. I know that. I'm really not that guy. In all honestly, it's probably good for our division. People are watching our division and that's a good thing."
What may not jive with Edgar is McGregor getting a title shot ahead of him or Swanson no matter what happens in McGregor's next fight against Dennis Siver in January.
McGregor might be the flavor of the month, but Edgar believes his record speaks for itself. Trash talk may not be his thing, but Edgar isn't above asking for what he wants, especially after answering the UFC's call for a third fight with Penn and missing so many key fights while coaching the reality show.
"I would probably be upset," Edgar said about McGregor potentially getting that next title shot. "I'm not one to be a baby about anything. I get how this works. I'm obviously going to lobby for it. I'm going to make the calls and do what I've got to do to put myself in the talks. If I'm the best the world — and I believe I'm the best in the world — then I need to be able to beat anybody. If I have to beat one more person, then so be it.
"But I'm going to be vocal that I want the title shot, and I believe I earned it. Conor's talking as if he has the title already. I'm not going to do that. I know Cub is as serious a threat as they come."
Performances often speak louder than words, and that's what Edgar is counting on to get the job done. As much as McGregor or anybody else in the division might be able to do in terms of promotion, Edgar knows the best man for the job is the person who poses the biggest threat to take the belt from around Aldo's waist.
Edgar believes he's the guy to do it.
"I feel the winner of this fight is going to be the best guy to dethrone the champion, Jose Aldo," Edgar said. "I know we both had a crack at him. I was close and Cub was a long time ago so yeah, I do feel the cream is going to rise to the top. Whoever rises to the top is going to give Aldo the best fight.
"I know I haven't finished tons of guys. B.J.'s not an easy guy to finish, and I want to keep that same kind of pressure and ideology to go out there and finish guys. Especially with this title shot looming, I need to make it so they have no choice but to give it to me."