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Frankie Edgar: Conor McGregor can’t hold featherweight ‘hostage,’ should vacate title if next fight isn’t at 145

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

The decision to allow Conor McGregor to vault up a division and challenge Rafael dos Anjos for the lightweight title at UFC 196 never sat well with Frankie Edgar, but Edgar could at least understand where he stood in the equation. Regardless of a McGregor win or loss, the Irishman was just 10 pounds away, and Edgar may have been vying for the UFC featherweight title by the summer.

But then dos Anjos suffered a broken foot, and overnight Edgar found himself like the rest of us, stuck riding sidecar as McGregor spins his increasingly tangled web through the fight game. That lightweight showdown with history on the line? It turned into a welterweight showcase against Nate Diaz. And now that McGregor is two divisions away, Edgar can't help but wonder: has featherweight seen the last of its reigning champion?

"You can't just hold this weight class up hostage like that for that long," Edgar said Monday on The MMA Hour. "The rumors are he probably can't make 145 again. I mean, the guy cut a boatload to be the biggest guy in there. And now, if you can't make the weight, it's not his problem. He's too big. Just let it go, and maybe we'll meet at 155 down the road. Who knows?"

Edgar's comments come on the heels of an interview with MMA Fighting last week in which he tore into the UFC for its handling of UFC 196 after dos Anjos dropped out. The UFC approached Edgar to replace the Brazilian on 11 days' notice, but Edgar was forced to decline due to a torn groin.

Edgar has since hashed out his complaints with the promotion, but at the time he felt as if UFC President Dana White misrepresented the situation by publicly stating that Edgar refused the fight.

"I definitely was the most pissed off (I've ever been), at least in an interview," Edgar said. "I mean, look, this is the way this sport is going. You've got to talk, you've got to speak up for what you want, and you've got to get people interested in the cause you're fighting for. And that's what I'm trying to do, man. I'm just following the lead of these guys who are going up before me, I guess you could say. I tried doing it the old-fashioned way, just earning it and working hard. But there's more to it nowadays, and I'm trying to do my best in getting my spot, whichever way I gotta do it."

Edgar remains the UFC's clear-cut No. 1 contender at featherweight, a position he earned in December when he knocked out Chad Mendes inside the first round at The Ultimate Fighter 22 Finale. But that claim means little until McGregor either returns to 145 pounds or vacates the belt, neither of which are decisions that will be made until after McGregor meets Diaz on March 5 in Las Vegas.

So in the interim, Edgar is simply going to try to make the best of a bizarre situation.

That starts on Saturday when Edgar joins the FOX Sports 1 crew as an analyst for the UFC 196 pre- and post-fight show, where Edgar will get the chance to inject his own brand of fire into the McGregor conversation.

"Hey, that's what they want though, right?" Edgar said. "They want realness. They keep telling me come in there with some energy. We'll see, I'm just going to let it fly. I'm going to try to be the best analyst I can be, but there's a storyline here too."

Other than McGregor, few people know for sure what will happen with the featherweight belt in the coming months, least of all Edgar. But if it comes down to a decision between fighting for gold or shutting up the mouth of the Eire, Edgar knows which path he will choose.

"The belt can stay with you forever," Edgar said. "To be a two-division champion, I'd be the first to do it, before Conor does it. But ideally, the best scenario would be fighting Conor at 145 for the belt. That would be the best."

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