The way Frankie Edgar sees it, there’s no one more deserving than him of fighting Conor McGregor at UFC 200 in July.
Edgar (19-4-1), the former Ultimate Fighting Championship lightweight champion riding a five-fight winning streak, is said to be in contention with former featherweight champion Jose Aldo of Brazil to fight Ireland’s charismatic McGregor in the main event of UFC 200 July 9 at the new T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
While Aldo beat Edgar in 2013 as part of his 10-year-long unbeaten streak, the Brazilian lasted only 13 seconds against McGregor in December, getting knocked out by a sudden punch to the jaw.
“I’ve got a lot of traction, got a lot of buzz going on that this is the fight the fans want,” Edgar told The Times on Monday in a telephone interview. “I know [UFC President] Dana [White] is talking about it in the media, and I think Conor’s a man of his word about fighting the No. 1 guy out there … if that’s what he wants, it’s got to be me.
“The reason you watch fights is to see who’s the better guy, not to watch a guy get knocked out with one punch. I’m not taking anything from Aldo … but I felt he had his chance … and now I think it’s my time.”
Edgar said he suffered a groin injury about six weeks ago that prevented him from substituting for McGregor’s scheduled March 5 opponent, injured lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos (foot).
Stockton’s Nate Diaz stepped in instead and fought McGregor in a welterweight fight at 170 pounds – 25 pounds over the featherweight limit – and McGregor succumbed to the fatigue of carrying the extra weight and to the power of Diaz’s heavier punches, losing by second-round submission in the main event of UFC 196 at MGM Grand.
“[McGregor] put that stuff on himself, he relishes it,” Edgar said. “I’m not surprised he lost, but those fans that support him are sticking by him. He’s still of great value, and he still has the 145-pound title. That’s what has the most value to me. I want to fight for that title.”
Edgar is encouraged by the fact he knocked out top-five featherweight contender Chad Mendes in the first round of their Dec. 11 fight, winning performance of the night. He’s also beaten current bantamweight title contender Urijah Faber, veteran former two-division champion B.J. Penn and another strong contender, Cub Swanson, during his winning streak.
“I think it’s my time. After my fight with Mendes, Dana said I can get whatever I want,” Edgar said. “Now, McGregor’s coming back down to 145. Well, that’s what I want.”
Edgar, 34, said he expects McGregor’s next opponent to be announced “soon … the next week or so.
“I’m trying to think positive. If it’s up to Dana and [UFC Chairman] Lorenzo [Fertitta], I think I’ll get the fight.”
Fertitta did not immediately respond about plans for McGregor's next fight.
"We have nothing done for 200," White told The Times by text message Monday.
One key asset for Edgar is his reliability. He’s fought twice a year since 2007, when he fought three times, while Aldo postponed his McGregor fight due to a rib injury in training.
Clearly, the UFC doesn’t want UFC 200 marred by an injury.
“That’s not the only fight Aldo has had to pull out of because of an injury. He has a history,” Edgar said. “I’m not sure they want to bank on that guy again.”