For all of the talk of the UFC featherweight division and its seemingly uncrowned (media) king Conor McGregor, there's surprisingly little of it coming from or headed towards Frankie Edgar. The top featherweight contender and former lightweight champion has one of the most important fights for the division's future on Saturday when he takes on Cub Swanson at UFC Fight Night 57 in Austin, Texas. Yet, most of the talk is centered on Swanson or McGregor or simply other top contenders.
As far as Edgar is concerned, there's no sense in being worried in things over which he has no control.
"You just never know the landscape and what things are going to happen, and who is going to say what to create some attention, what Dana's thinking or Lorenzo's thinking. I just go out there and do my job and win fights. If I win impressively, it has a way of taking care of things. If I go out there and perform like I want to, everything will go my way," Edgar said on Monday's The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani.
"All these guys are talking. [McGregor]'s kind of setting the pace for everybody. Chael [Sonnen] definitely did, but Chael's kinda been in a sport for the while when he did it. Conor kinda came out of nowhere and did it. People are taking notice. 'Wow, this gets me some attention. This gets me in the forefront.' People are taking notice and starting to open their mouths more.
"I just think people want to prove themselves to be the man and debunk everything he's saying. I don't really get caught up in stuff like that. I sit back, take a look at it, see how it plays out. You know me. I don't get paid to talk. If that was the case, I'd have your job," he quips.
Edgar says he prefers to play to his strengths. He can't talk, so he doesn't try to bother. He can fight, however, and can do so quite well. Why not simply stick that? Yet, he doesn't decry other fighters using whatever they can to get ahead. Unlike many of his contemporaries in the division, he sees McGregor as a boon to everyone's career.
"You know what? He's doing well," Edgar notes. "He sells. Numbers sell. Controversy sells. I'm not a jealous guy. I'm not going to hate on the kid or anything. Listen, people are talking about our division because of this guy. Let's keep it real."
His attention, though, is not on McGregor. It's focused firmly on Swanson now that he's over the The Ultimate Fighter hump. The third B.J. Penn fight is behind him and despite concerns he's been somewhat inactive as a consequence of doing the show, Edgar says this Swanson main event is happening right on time.
"I was a little banged up before the BJ fight," Edgar said. "Some stuff I had to take care of, nothing really crazy. I just needed to rehab a little bit, so this is actually perfect timing."
Edgar also says the timing had to be right to take on an opponent like Swanson. He doesn't simply refer to his skill set, but how things are going for him as he rides a six-fight win streak into this bout.
"I think he's hot. Some people get on a streak. It's like a team. A team gets on a streak, they're hot," Edgar argues. "That's what he's got right now. I think his confidence is really high. When you have a lot of confidence behind you, the ball keeps rolling. The guys he's fought, too, are perfect for him as well.
"I think [his boxing] is good. It's solid. What makes it really good is its unpredictableness. Obviously he's a hard puncher, so being unpredictable and being able to hit hard, that's tricky. You might see an opening, but that might be what he wants."
The former lightweight champion believes Swanson is better on his feet, but dangerous everywhere. He, too, is "happy to take it anywhere", not merely against Swanson, but "any fighter in the featherweight division, I can go anywhere with and I'm confident, man."
The notable wrinkle to the fight is not merely the exciting nature of the match-up or that it features two fighters from the top of the division. There are title shot implications. Swanson has said the UFC has guaranteed him a title shot if he wins, something McGregor disputes, but UFC President Dana White confirmed.
Edgar, however, thinks he should be part of that conversation if he wins, even if he acknowledges no one's said anything to him about the possibility.
"They haven't told me," Edgar says of UFC brass. "I've got to not give them a choice. That's the best way to do it. Not give them a choice."
"I should be," Edgar notes when asked if his name should be part of the title picture. "I should be, but you don't always get what you deserve. We'll see. I can't focus past this fight. If I do that, I lose and all this means nothing."
Ultimately, Edgar finds himself in familiar territory. He's a respected fighter in an important bout, but one without the popular wind at his back. It's almost a position Edgar relishes, however. After all, he's had a lot of success in turning skeptics into advocates once the fight is over and the sport is forced to reckon with the results.
"I gotta go out there and perform and make it the best fight ever. Easier said than done. It doesn't always work out like that, but if I do that - it's the most exciting, the most emphatic, like you said - they can't deny me, right?"