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Frankie Edgar 'pissed' at UFC, says the ‘C’ in UFC stands for ‘Conor’

Not everybody received the news that Nate Diaz would step in to face Conor McGregor at UFC 196 with complete enthusiasm. One of those who didn’t get a fuzzy feeling from Tuesday night’s announcement was Frankie Edgar, the contender back there at 145 pounds who keeps shrinking in McGregor’s rear view mirror as he steers off into other weight classes.

Edgar’s manager Ali Abdel-Aziz was approached by the UFC to take the fight against McGregor on essentially 10 day’s notice, yet Edgar had to turn it down as he’s midway through recovering from a torn groin. That’s the first, most basic thing that peeved him — the missed opportunity.

"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," a fired up Edgar told MMA Fighting on Wednesday. "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."

Yet there was plenty else wrong with the picture that rankled Edgar further, especially in how things were worded.

"I’m even more pissed that Dana’s insinuating that I ‘refused’ to take this fight, which is bullsh*t," he said. "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.

"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 was promised a featherweight title shot after his first-round knockout of Chad Mendes on Dec. 11 — which came just a day before McGregor knocked out Jose Aldo at UFC 194. When McGregor announced that he wanted to move up a weight class and challenge for the lightweight belt in the immediate aftermath, the odd man out became Edgar.

Since then, Edgar has been in a holding pattern.

Four weeks ago, Edgar tore his abductor tendon and some muscles in his groin, thus forcing him to sit on the sidelines for a few weeks. He said he hasn’t sparred, wrestled or done jiu-jitsu for weeks. It wasn’t just his bad luck with the timing — it’s that as a former UFC champion who did things by the book, he feels there’s an inordinate amount of disrespect being shown him.  

"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," he said. "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."

McGregor was attempting to make history by becoming the first fighter to hold belts in two different weight classes concurrently. Yet well before his March 5 date with dos Anjos he was already flirting with the idea of a move to 170 pounds to challenge for that title, as well. The UFC, who has thus far been in compliance with McGregor’s big picture plans, made the short notice fight with dos Anjos’ replacement Diaz at 170 pounds.

"And this is what my team was pissed at," Edgar said. "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."

Asked point blank if he thinks he’ll ever fight McGregor for a belt, Edgar sighed.

"I don’t think at 145," he said. "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 f*cking camp. And I know I’d take that belt home with me.

"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."

The 34-year-old Edgar said that he expects to be fully healed and able to spar again in a few weeks, and that he could feasibly be ready to fight in May.

"I mean, I’d love to fight at UFC 200 for the 45-pound title," he said. "But, hey, who knows."

In the meantime, Edgar’s not the happiest camper. He’s reading between the lines, and what he’s detecting isn’t sitting with him too well.

"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," he said. "I think Nate is the fight they wanted to make, and they made it.

"And Cowboy 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."

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