Frankie Edgar didn't have to wait long to hear from Jose Aldo. Less than a week after the two featherweights were formally booked to rematch on July 9 at UFC 200, Aldo went on the offensive, telling reporters in Rio de Janeiro that Edgar's game has stagnated since Aldo eked out a decision win over the former UFC lightweight champion in early 2013.
The early jab surprised Edgar, as Aldo has historically shied away from trash talking opponents, however Edgar simply chalks it up to Aldo trying to replicate the loquacious approach of UFC featherweight champion Conor McGregor.
"You're seeing it across the board in all weight classes," Edgar said. "Guys are getting more vocal. They're just seeing what it's done for Conor, so they're trying to kind of make their voice heard. I think that's what Aldo is doing.
"Arguably, you could say I haven't lost a round since me and Aldo fought. He's just been in some either pretty boring (fights), or wars since our fight. So, I think I'm the one who looks like he's evolved more than Aldo has. So yeah, I don't know. I think he's just talking the fight up."
With McGregor electing to rematch Nate Diaz in a welterweight non-title contest rather than defending his featherweight title, Edgar and Aldo were forced to settle on a glorified No. 1 contender match against one another with an interim belt on the line. The outcome is far from ideal, but still an opportunity that Edgar has coveted since his close championship loss to Aldo at UFC 156.
Edgar has argued for years that he won that fight, which was Edgar's first ever at featherweight. While Edgar came on strong as Aldo faded late, all three judges unanimously scored the contest for the Brazilian, allowing Aldo to retain his then-held UFC featherweight title.
When asked recently about the scoring, Aldo scoffed, telling MMA Fighting that he "easily" won the fight and did so with only his left arm. Not surprisingly, Edgar disagrees with that assessment.
"This guy is like I said. People are trying to talk. He's just not that great at doing it, you know?" Edgar said.
"He's just trying to create buzz, and I get what he's trying to do, but we all know he doesn't fight injured. The guy pulls out of fights every other fight, so he definitely doesn't fight injured. So we can just throw that one away. And everybody talks about how our fight was close. He wants to sit there and have this false sense of security? Maybe that's why he's trying to talk like this, because he's dealing with this knockout loss. But, by all means, go ahead and go in there super confident."
Aldo has been sidelined since ending up on the wrong side of history's highlight reel at UFC 194, where he relinquished his featherweight belt with devastating 13-second knockout at the hands of McGregor. The stunning defeat ended a decade-long reign of dominance for the man many consider to be the greatest featherweight to ever compete, and Edgar can't help but wonder whether the loss will still be weighing heavily on Aldo's mind at UFC 200.
"Everybody bounces back differently, looks at it differently," Edgar said. "But no doubt about it, it's got to mess with your psyche, especially when you're as dominant as he has been for the last 10 years, and then, boom, one punch. Literally one punch. Thirteen seconds. And against a guy who gloats. Just, the worst guy who could do that to you, did it. That's just got to mess with your head. So, we'll see."
Edgar, by contrast, is one of the UFC's hottest fighters. His five-fight run of victories over Charles Oliveira, B.J. Penn, Cub Swanson, Urijah Faber, and Chad Mendes is among the most impressive résumés for any contender in the organization. The fact that his streak is punctuated by his first career one-punch knockout is just icing on the cake -- and Edgar vows to carry that momentum into his rematch against Aldo.
"You see I'm getting much more comfortable in my fights," Edgar said. "I feel like I'm much better since we fought three years ago, or over three years ago now. I'm coming into my own in every aspect. I'm kind of finding my feet and hitting with some power. My wrestling and my ground-and-pound is much better. I'm going to go in, just be myself, foot on the gas.
"Whether by grinding him for five rounds or putting him away in the first, I want to show everyone that I came prepared and I'm the best fighter in the world."