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Fightweets: Conor McGregor, Frankie Edgar, and the case for a shot at Jose Aldo's title

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Esther Lin

The MMA world is taking a bit of a pause for a Thanksgiving break. But it didn't do so before a fresh controversy was tossed onto the plate: In the wake of Frankie Edgar's dominant performance against Cub Swanson at UFC Fight Night 57, who deserves the next shot at Jose Aldo's UFC featherweight title?

We delve into that and a whole lot more as Fightweets makes its return.

Who deserves the fight?

@Cubbiezfan80: If Conor McGregor loses, Jose Aldo fights ___ next?

In a perfect world, whether Conor McGregor wins or loses, Jose Aldo fights Frankie Edgar next.

But that, of course, is only how we'd look at things if mixed martial arts was purely sport, and the "business" part of the "fight business" wasn't factored into things.

I'm not naive enough to deny the reality that Aldo vs. McGregor is one of the biggest fights the UFC can put on, at any weight class, should the final piece come together: McGregor defeating Dennis Siver in January. It's particularly appealing if you're Aldo, and you've been champion as long as he has, but you've never cashed in on that one megafight the way his peers in longtime title reigns, Anderson Silva and Georges St-Pierre, have. If you were in his position, would you want a rematch with a guy you already beat, or a new challenge in a match that could be held in an outdoor stadium?

I get all that. Just don't ask me to play along and pretend like McGregor has a better title-shot case on merit than Edgar. Edgar dominated Swanson, who had been on a six-fight win streak and was promised a title shot with a win. Edgar was fighting to make a statement and made it with authority. He's won three in a row after basically losing 3-2 to Aldo a couple years ago.

McGregor, even if he beats Siver, will have exactly one win over a lower-end-of-the-Top-10 fighter, Dustin Poirier, to his credit. Aldo vs. McGregor wouldn't be a Jon Jones vs. Chael Sonnen-level farce, but in no way does he have a better case than Edgar. Except, of course, for business, which is the one that counts.

Is the UFC protecting McGregor?

@ELcujorino: Can you think of a fighter that has been coddled more than McGregor? He's fought only brawlers w/ minimal ground games so far

I don't know if "coddled" is the right word. There's been a lot of pressure on McGregor each step of the way, which has increased each time out as a growing throng of doubters expected him to stumble. By the time of his third UFC fight, he was already expected to carry an event in his home country. That's real pressure.

Now, has the UFC's matchmaking been conducive to getting the most out of the McGregor hype train? It sure has. Featherweight is a division as deep in high-level wrestlers as any, and somehow, McGregor's avoided them all, (though in fairness, he was scheduled to meet high-level grappler Cole Miller, who damn well knows his way around the floor, before Miller pulled out of the July card in Ireland and Diego Brandao took his place).

Favorable matchmaking? Yup. Coddled? Not with the level of pressure he's under, and not when he's already shaken off an ACL injury that nearly cost him a year and a thumb injury that could have pushed him out of the Poirier fight. It's a fine line, but they've more or less walked it well.

Frankie Edgar for the Hall of Fame?

@Creamyadventure: If Edgar retired tomorrow is he #HOF (&legit hof assuming there is one, not ufc hof)? Has he done enough?

Yes. To this day I remember sitting cageside at UFC 67 for a fight which was supposed to be a showcase for an undefeated future lightweight champion ... named Tyson Griffin. Instead, it was Frankie Edgar, making his UFC debut, who mugged Griffin for 15 minutes. Griffin didn't immediately go downhill from there, but nor did he ever quite live up to his billing.

I also remember, even back then, hearing rumblings that Edgar was being pressured to go to the WEC and drop to featherweight. He stuck to his own course, never got handed a damn thing, and took his talent and pure heart all the way to the lightweight title despite being undersized for his weight class. Not only has he had a career renaissance at featherweight, at a time when people were starting to ask if he's taken too much damage, but he could probably cut down to bantamweight and contend there as well.

You know who else wasn't afraid to fight up in weight, was willing to take on all comers, and fought with his heart? B.J. Penn. If Penn is a Hall of Famer, and he's a no-brainer pick, then I don't see how you can't pick Edgar, who had all the traits people loved about Penn but none of his faulty quirks.

Airing Fights of the Night

@140sNotEnough: If a FOTN happens in an unaired fight should the UFC bump a later fight from airing so it can air?

No. What if that fight which gets bumped ends up being better than the fight pre-empting it? But that said, there's really no good reason why they can't find time for the Fight of the Night - like, say, oh, Paige Van Zant vs. Kailin Curran - during the minutes, and hours, and seemingly days and days of studio chit-chat between bouts, especially when the fights on the card are going short.

Welterweight picture

@DarcyLeDrew: If Lawler wins on Dec. 6, will we see a rematch or will Rory get the shot immediately

Now that's an interesting question. Dana White has already gone out of his way to say Rory MacDonald would get the next welterweight title shot after Johny Hendricks and Robbie Lawler tangle on Dec. 6, and that it would happen in Montreal. But then last week, White said that Rory getting the title shot in Calgary would "make sense." So you know how these things go.

The UFC is looking for its next big Canadian star. And while MacDonald is likely never going to be beloved like Georges St-Pierre, he's the best shot the company has at filling the void, and he was certainly treated like a star by the crowds in his recent wins in Vancouver and Halifax. A MacDonald title victory in Canada is as close a thing to finding someone who can fill GSP's shoes as anything they'll come up with in the foreseeable future.

Just ask Anthony Pettis, though, about what happens when a barnburner breaks out when you're next in line for a title shot. Pettis was supposed to get a lightweight title fight against the winner of Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard. That fight ended in a draw, and Pettis chose to take a "keep busy" fight and lost while waiting for their rematch. A couple more years passed before Pettis found himself in position for that title shot.

With just over a month left in 2014, Hendricks vs. Lawler 1 is my choice for Fight of the Year. If the rematch is every bit as compelling as the original, and if Lawler gets the nod in a tight fight this time? It's going to be really hard not to go straight to a trilogy fight. Otherwise, I'd be really surprised if MacDonald didn't get his promised, and well-earned, shot.

Dillashaw vs. Cruz

@soccertrs007:  When do you think Cruz vs. Dillashaw happens?

All signs seem to point to March-ish or soon thereafter. Dillashaw has been recovering nicely from elbow surgery he underwent last month, Cruz hasn't had any sort of setbacks, and the PPV/Big FOX events through February are all in place. Expect Dillashaw-Cruz to be among the next big wave of major fight announcements, whenever that tide rolls in.

Finding contenders for Mighty Mouse

@MacPherson9999: What do they do with Mighty Mouse? McCall/JL is rebooked, Dodson's out awhile. Who's next? when?

Well, the problem kind of solves itself to a degree, since Demetrious Johnson is taking several months off. And it's a well-earned break, too: The UFC flyweight champ has fought five times in the past two years and eight in the past three.

So that buys some time to see what happens in the rebooked Ian McCall-John Lineker fight on Jan. 31. If "Uncle Creepy" wins, I think he's done enough to earn another fight with Mighty Mouse. Lineker? I'm leery of giving a title shot to a guy who consistently has problems making 126, never mind the 125 on the nose required for a title fight.

A flyweight wild card? Let's see what Wilson Reis, who's looked like a killer in his first two fights at 125, does with his next bout, which has yet to be announced. DJ is in in need of a fresh challenge and Reis just might be the answer.

Bones and The Cos

@sigep422wesg: Should @JonnyBones face any sanctions for his Bill Cosby comments?? I don't know what to make of it, whats ur thoughts??

Nah. Cosby hasn't even been charged with anything yet, much less convicted, and Jones has a right to believe what he wants. Now, whether it's smart to make statements in favor of Cosby is another matter. But then, Jones is developing quite a track record for moments such as these, and you'd think his handlers would have a better grip on this by now. But punishing him just for having an unpopular opinion is a bit much.

Got a question for a future edition of Fightweets? Go to my Twitter page and leave me a tweet.