Frankie Edgar is coming for the title and Aldo and McGregor better beware
There was an argument made prior to UFC 189 in July that Frankie Edgar deserved a featherweight title shot more than Conor McGregor, based on his résumé and wins over top-10 opponents.
When featherweight champion Jose Aldo suffered an injury, Edgar seemed like the logical choice to replace him, but once again he was passed over, this time in favor of Chad Mendes.
But on Friday night with everybody’s eyes on the featherweight division ahead of UFC 194, where Aldo finally will meet McGregor in the Octagon, Edgar made his biggest statement yet with a first-round knockout of Mendes to not only solidify his spot as the No. 1 contender, but also establish himself as the man most likely to beat whoever he faces next and walk out with the title.
Edgar’s irritation at being passed over was more than understandable, especially considering the way he’s been a company man for the UFC for his entire career. When he beat B.J. Penn for the lightweight title and they asked for an immediate rematch, Edgar said yes. When the UFC asked Edgar to put his career on hold to coach "The Ultimate Fighter" with Penn and fight him for a third time after already beating him twice, he said yes.
When the UFC needed a marquee headliner for the first card in the Philippines with another show scheduled in Edgar’s home state of New Jersey around the same time, there was no hesitation — he said yes.
So now it’s time for the UFC to say yes to Edgar and grant him the title shot he’s deserved and earned numerous times, and UFC president Dana White seems to recognize it, too.
"Nobody can deny Frankie anymore," White said Friday. "He looked amazing tonight and he’ll get whatever he wants."
Edgar never has been known as a one-punch knockout striker, but watching him finish Mendes in the first round was stunning. At 34, Edgar isn’t just in the prime of his career, he’s getting better.
He nearly beat Aldo when they faced off the first time, yet somehow Edgar’s performance gets forgotten whenever anyone speaks about the Brazilian’s toughest challenge inside the Octagon. Edgar ran through Charles Oliveira, Urijah Faber and Cub Swanson before finishing Mendes in impressive fashion, and now the two featherweight contenders facing off on Saturday night have something else to worry about when their fight is over.
Edgar told FOX Sports before the fight that if everything went well against Mendes, he would ask the UFC for a ticket to sit front row for Aldo-McGregor. That wish has been granted and Edgar will be peering through the cage on Saturday night keeping a close eye on whoever wins because he’s next.
"I’m going to be there for sure," Edgar said.
There’s little doubt that both Aldo and McGregor are focused solely on each other for at least the next 24 hours until their grudge is settled inside the Octagon, but once the moment is settled and the winner’s hand is raised, the winner will need to look over his shoulder because Edgar will be standing right behind him.
Edgar may not be the flashiest fighter in the UFC and he’ll never be accused of talking the most trash, but his blue collar work ethic and die-hard attitude have made him one of the best fighters in the world for nearly a decade.
He was lightweight champion when it was clear beyond a shadow of a doubt that he was fighting in the wrong division as a very undersized fighter at 155 pounds. Now Edgar has defined himself as the true No. 1 contender at featherweight and the biggest threat to Aldo or McGregor’s reign as champion.
"They knew I was coming. Now, I just solidified it," Edgar told FOX Sports in addressing Aldo and McGregor. "No matter what happens, I’m going to be knocking on that door and they’re going to answer and they’re going to see me.
"I’m coming for that title."