Frankie Edgar thought he was next in line when it came to the UFC's featherweight pecking order, but that turned out not to be the case. With the status of champion Jose Aldo thrown into question at UFC 189 because of a rib injury, Chad Mendes -- not Edgar -- was selected by the UFC to be a contingency plan to challenge Conor McGregor for an interim belt on July 11 if Aldo is unable to compete.
"I was a little surprised by it," a disappointed Edgar admitted Monday on The MMA Hour. "Somebody called and asked if I was willing to step in, so I almost wish they didn't ask me at all, get my hopes up for nothing.
"Not taking anything away from Mendes, obviously he's a stud and he goes in there, he won his last fight by knockout. But you know, his last two fights he's 1-1. He has only a one-fight win streak. I have a four-fight win streak. So yeah, I am a little surprised. I think at one point after the Cub (Swanson) fight, or at some point, I was the No. 1 contender. I think it was after [Mendes'] fight with Aldo actually, I was the No. 1 contender. Then all of a sudden, somehow it got flopped."
Both Edgar and Mendes have a history with Aldo. Edgar dropped a narrow decision to the champion in early 2013 in a bout that would serve as Edgar's featherweight debut. Mendes, on the other hand, has lost twice to Aldo, once by first-round KO in 2012 and most recently in a thrilling decision last October.
Edgar figured that the length of time between his meeting with Aldo compared to Mendes' recent loss, and the fact that he's racked up four successive victories over Charles Oliveira, B.J. Penn, Swanson, and Urijah Faber since then would give him the shot at winning the McGregor sweepstakes at UFC 189.
Mendes, however, remains ranked No. 1 featherweight on the UFC's media-generated rankings while Edgar sits at No. 2, and according to Edgar, that's the reason he was told for the UFC's slight.
"They pretty much said, Mendes is the No. 1 contender," Edgar said. "I guess they're going by numbers, but... I'm trying to put my foot in my mouth here, but you gotta go by the rankings all the time, not just sometimes.
"I understand it's a business and that's what they're looking for," Edgar added. "But in this instance, I felt like, alright, if he's No. 1, I'm No. 2, it's a fine line right there. But they went with him, they didn't go with me, I can't be crying about it right now."
For now, Edgar is stuck in limbo like most everyone else in the MMA world just waiting to see how UFC 189 plays out. The UFC has maintained that Aldo's ribs are merely bruised, while Brazilian doctors have claimed the damage extends to a fracture. As of this writing, Aldo is still slated to fight McGregor, but his status will likely remain tenuous all the way up until fight night, with Mendes waiting in the wings in case he can't go.
It's a tough situation for everyone involved, and Edgar can't say for sure how he would handle it if he were in Aldo's shoes.
"I had bruised rubs in college during wrestling. ... But everything's different, I can't really say," Edgar said. "I would like to say I would've fought. That's what I would like to say, but you never know.
"I think the best case scenario is Aldo and McGregor do fight, and it's not a close fight, it's not a controversial fight, and I get the winner. That's the best-case scenario."
That scenario, though, is just one of the many ways UFC 189 could end up playing out. A McGregor win over Aldo or a last-second injury dropout on Aldo's part would surely delay Edgar's plans for a title shot, as either Aldo would get an automatic rematch or he'd fight the winner of Mendes-McGregor in a title unification bout. And if that happens, Edgar doesn't want to get stuck holding out for an opportunity that isn't going to come.
"I'm not going to sit around and wait forever," Edgar said. "I'm fighting. I want to fight before this year is out, and of course I want to fight for that title first and foremost. But if they go a different route, I'm not going to sit around and wait.
"(I'm) definitely annoyed. But again, I'm not one to sit there and (complain). The decision is made. I've gotta keep moving and worry about what's next. There's a lot of ‘ifs' in the air right now. I think July 11th we'll figure out what's really going on and I guess that'll my be future."