December 08, 2015
On Saturday night, UFC featherweights Conor McGregor and Jose Aldo will square off in the main event of UFC 194 with the title on the line, a title currently -- and somewhat controversially -- held by McGregor.
A night earlier, two of the top featherweight contenders -- No. 2 Frankie Edgar and No. 3 Chad Mendes -- will battle it out as part of the finale of The Ultimate Fighter, with the winner likely to earn a shot at whichever fighter comes away with the title at 194.
Edgar, a 34-year-old Summit, N.J. native, knows what's at stake for all four fighters this weekend. That's because he's a former UFC lightweight champion seeking his second championship belt in a different weightless. And his veteran mindset has, at least to this point, helped him from looking past his current opponent.
Making this more difficult for Edgar (18-4-1) is the fact that his last loss, back in February of 2013, came at the hands of Aldo. Meanwhile, McGregor has become one of the most popular fighters in the sport and leapfrogged Edgar on his way to being named "interim champion" -- or as Edgar calls it, "not the real title."
But the man they call "The Answer" isn't worried about whether or not he should be next in line for a shot at McGregor. Not yet, at least.
“[Mendes] is a veteran," Edgar said during a phone interview with PhillyVoice. "He’s been at the top for a while. He’s got a lot of power, he’s very explosive and he’s super strong wrestling. I think we’re a little similar in certain ways but also different in those ways.”
What Edgar means by that is both fighters are well rounded. They both have the ability to stand up and fight it out, but neither is afraid to take his opponent to the mat and turn it into a wrestling match. Where Edgar thinks he has an edge, however, is in his pace.
"I’m just going to put the pace on him," Edgar said. "And I put the pace on everyone; that’s kind of my M.O. I always have my foot on the gas and I’m going to do that in this fight for sure.”
And if he can hold off Mendes on Friday night, you can bet he'll be watching Saturday's McGregor-Aldo fight closely. After all, he'd likely be next up for a title shot.
“You’ve got to win first," Edgar said when asked if he'd prefer a shot at McGregor before he potentially moves up to lightweight. "I want to fight for the title before I want to fight anybody in particular. I want to become a two-division champion, and I’ve been knocking on that door for a while now. So that’s first and foremost.
“But yeah, if I can get a crack at McGregor in the future while he has the title, that would be great. They’d announce that as a huge fight and promote the hell out of it, so it would be good for everybody.”
Even though that fight may be the bigger draw, given McGregor's penchant for trash talk, Edgar knows there's only one thing that lasts in this sport.
“The guy I want to fight most is the guy who has the title, whoever that is," Edgar added. "I think that will last with me longer. Once you win that title, man, it stays with you forever. I had it at lightweight, and now I want to get it at featherweight.”
A win over Mendes this weekend, and it's hard to imagine his next fight will be anything other than a title bout.
I solicited some question for Frankie Edgar from fans on social media. Here are the best, along with The Answer's answers.
@matt_mullin how is his training camp for his next fight going— David Malandra Jr (@David_Malandra) December 4, 2015
@matt_mullin Does he feel if he wins this fight with Mendes that he should get a shot at the winner of Aldo/McGregor?— John Barchard (@JohnBarchard) December 4, 2015
@matt_mullin Follow up... Does he also think that McGregor is a paper champion like Mendez does?— John Barchard (@JohnBarchard) December 4, 2015