To say that Frankie Edgar was over-the-moon about Nate Diaz stepping in for Rafael dos Anjos, would be a gross over-estimation. In fact, the former UFC lightweight champion was less than enthusiastic about the bout.
Edgar was one of the fighters approached to replace Dos Anjos against McGregor. His manager, Ali Abdel-Aziz was approached by the UFC with only 10 days notice. Edgar had to turn down the fight because he's still recovering from a torn groin.
Missing such an opportunity obviously upset Edgar a great deal.
"I got a call from Ali saying that Rafael dos Anjos got hurt, and [the UFC] had texted him, ‘will Frankie fight him at 155?’ And, I’ve been hurt for the past four weeks. I’m pissed off for a couple of reasons. I’m pissed off that I’ve got this opportunity slip through again. I’m sitting here, I’m the one who’s been trying to fight this guy for months now. I’m flying myself to Vegas on my own dime to lobby to get a fight with this guy and now here comes the opportunity, and I’m hurt and I can’t take it. I haven’t done anything in four weeks. I didn’t just pull my groin, I tore it. I sent Dana and everyone in the UFC my MRI."
But a missed opportunity wasn't the only thing that upset Edgar. He wasn't too pleased in the way his "rejection of the offer was "worded" in the media.
"I’m even more pissed that Dana’s insinuating that I ‘refused’ to take this fight, which is bullshit. Just because they asked me doesn’t mean they were going to give it to me because guess what, in July they asked me to take the [UFC 189] fight on 15 day’s notice, which of course I accepted, and I still didn’t get it."
Something that he assumed would happen again.
"I have a feeling that if I had said ‘yes,’ if Ali had texted back ‘yes,’ that fight still would have went to Nate Diaz. I think Nate Diaz was the fight they were trying to make since the beginning. From what I hear they contacted Nate even before they contacted me. But now Dana wants to go around saying that I ‘refused ‘to take this fight, and I don’t know if he’s going to try to use it against me in the future when another opportunity comes up where I can fight for the belt, and he’s going to say, ‘well, you had your opportunity and you said no.’"
Edgar has been put in a weird sort of holding pattern... at least that's the way he feels. After his first round knockout of Chad Mendes on December 11, Edgar was promised a shot at the featherweight title. This was a before McGregor's knockout of Jose Aldo.
Then, McGregor wanted to move up in weight class, which put Edgar to the side. He's had to sit on the sidelines ever since he tore his abductor tendon and some muscles in his groin. He feels as if he's done things by the book and has paid the price for doing so.
"I feel like my integrity is something that I’ve built over the years and I’ve been such a good guy to the UFC, and then they’re going to throw me under the bus like I ‘refused’ to take this fight. I would take that fight in a heartbeat, even if I wasn’t training. If I was healthy enough, I would absolutely take that fight."
Meanwhile, McGregor was attempting to make history by becoming the first fighter to hold belts in two different weight classes at the same time. That plan was thrown out when when Dos Anjos dropped out. McGregor had already been flirting with the idea of moving up weight classes again, wanting to challenge for the belt too.
The UFC seems to be playing along with whatever Conor McGregor wants to do.
"And this is what my team was pissed at. This dude, they were going to let this guy hold the 145-pound title, go up to 55, now two weight classes are being held up. And now they’re saying he’s going to go up to 70. This is a circus. The ‘C’ in UFC stands for Conor. This guy runs the show."
When asked directly if Edgar thought he'd ever fight McGregor for the belt...
"I don’t think at 145. I think maybe if I go to up to 155 or something. And that’s another thing. They’ve been telling me for years, we don’t want you to fight at 55, we don’t want you to fight at 155…but oh, you want to fight Conor McGregor on 10 days notice at 155? Sure, well go ahead, jump in. It’s ridiculous. If they believe in Conor so much, let me fight him at 145 and give me a full fucking camp. And I know I’d take that belt home with me."
With McGregor's change in weight class, Edgar feels that either he'd have to go up in weight or McGregor would have to drop down. Given McGregor's design for UFC world domination in every class, that doesn't look like a possibility.
"I don’t know if he’s not interested in the fight, or if he’s not interested in the weight cut. If the weight cut is the problem, you can’t fight 45 no more. It’s over. Go move up if you want to. And that’s no problem, it’s not his fault, it is what it is. But there’s no reason he should keep the belt hostage."
Until Edgar heals and is ready for the ring again, he has no problems voicing his displeasure regarding what's happening currently.
"Just because he offered me the fight, I honestly don’t…I think if I’d said ‘yes’ I’d still be sitting in this same position where I wouldn’t be getting this fight with Conor. I think Nate is the fight they wanted to make, and they made it."
The conspiracy theories don't stop there.
"And Cowboy [Donald Cerrone] offered his services. Why didn’t they go with Cowboy? Cowboy was fresh off a camp. He’s in shape, no injuries. They decide to go with a guy like Nate who can’t even make 155, so how much training has he been doing? I don’t understand why they picked the guy who’s probably not ready for the fight. Why not pick a guy like Cowboy who seems to be ready for it? It sounds fishy to me."
Whether you buy into Edgar's theory or not, you can't deny that's there's a hint of truth to his claims. Obviously the UFC seems content with moving forward with whatever McGregor wants to accomplish.
At least for now.