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Frankie Edgar responds to Conor McGregor’s claims of UFC 222 fight offer

Frankie Edgar woke up last Thursday to an afternoon surprise of the red panty variety.

Edgar, the UFC’s former lightweight champion, was unexpectedly named in an Instagram post in which Conor McGregor proclaimed that he asked to fight Edgar on short notice at UFC 222 in an effort to save the March 3 pay-per-view following the injury withdrawal of Max Holloway. McGregor wrote that he was “excited about bouncing in last minute and taking out the final featherweight, without all the rest of the stuff that comes with this game,” but ultimately the UFC turned down his offer because, as McGregor claimed, “there wasn’t enough time to generate the money that the UFC would need.”

Unsurprisingly, once McGregor’s post was published, it went viral.

But as for the contents of the post, that was all news to Edgar.

“I woke up from a nap and I saw it on Twitter,” Edgar explained Monday on The MMA Hour. “That’s the first I heard of it.”

Edgar said he spoke to his manager Ali Abdel-Aziz to investigate McGregor’s claims. Abdel-Aziz told Edgar that while McGregor did ask for the short-notice fight at UFC 222, “The Notorious” asked for it to be for a 165-pound UFC title, which does not exist.

Edgar also noted that he never personally heard from UFC president Dana White about the offer, so he is dismissing the whole situation as a mere flight of fancy.

“I mean, come on, there is no 165-pound belt,” Edgar said. “You know what I’m saying? I want to fight on the moon. You know what I mean? Come on.

“He doesn’t want to defend his own belt. What, he wants to fight me? I mean, hey, that’d be great. That’d be great for me. Let’s be real. I’m not scared to fight anybody. Come on, I’ve been doing too long to be scared to fight anybody. I mean, if anything, that would be very good for me, to fight Conor McGregor.

“I would’ve fought him in any weight class, to be honest with you.

“I think if it was real, Dana would’ve called me personally,” Edgar added. “He’s done before. With something like that, Dana would’ve called me personally, and he didn’t, so I have to think that it wasn’t real.”

McGregor, the UFC’s current lightweight champion, has not competed in MMA since capturing the belt with a Nov. 2016 knockout of Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205.

Edgar, meanwhile, is scheduled to fight the replacement opponent he ultimately received for UFC 222, featherweight Brian Ortega, in a likely No. 1 contender match on Saturday.

So while Edgar isn’t sure why McGregor had to drag his name into a discussion like this right before fight week began, he also isn’t focusing on it either.

“I don’t know, I think Conor’s just being Conor, man,” Edgar said. “He’s the best at it, right? He’s the best at making news and staying relevant. I don’t mean relevant, he’s the most popular guy in our sport, this and that, but staying in the news cycle. He does it better than anybody, except maybe Floyd Mayweather.

“I’m not surprised by it, and I’m not getting sidetracked by it because it doesn’t matter,” Edgar added. “It’s non-news to me. Because the news is I’m fighting a guy who fights in the UFC right now, Brian Ortega.”

While Edgar has responded to the situation in a nonchalant manner, the same can’t be said for Abdel-Aziz and Edgar’s longtime coach, Mark Henry, both of whom ripped McGregor for the post. Abdel-Aziz compared McGregor to “a prostitute” in an interview with TMZ, while Henry criticized McGregor in a lengthy retort on Instagram.

“Ali’s being Ali, you know he’s going to say some outlandish sh*t. And Mark, he just keeps it real,” Edgar said of the two. “I think stuff he said holds some truth to it, but again, I’m not one to do that. I don’t need to defend myself. There’s nothing to defend. I’m who I am and I’m comfortable with that.”

Moving forward, Edgar said he is completely putting McGregor out of his mind.

He explained that if he defeats Ortega at UFC 222, it is Holloway — not McGregor — that will be his primary focus.

“That’s the fight that matters,” Edgar said. “Because again, I just don’t think Conor’s really serious about it. If I really felt he was serious, then yeah, maybe we’ll explore that. But I know Max, he fights. He’s going to get in there.”

Edgar also acknowledged that he doesn’t think he and McGregor will ever cross paths inside the Octagon.

“If we’re going to fight, we’ll fight. But I doubt it,” Edgar said. “I really don’t think we’ll ever cross paths. I really don’t. … We’ve had many times it could’ve been real, and it just never materialized. And if it didn’t materialize then, I just don’t see why would it happen now.”

So while other fighters may get distracted by issues like McGregor’s claims or Holloway’s short-notice dropout from UFC 222, Edgar is looking only at the task at hand as fight week begins.

“I’m putting it totally aside, because it’s easy with this whole Conor news and Max, it’s easy to get sidetracked and think about Max, think about Conor,” Edgar said. “I’ve got to focus on Ortega, man. It’s a dangerous fight. Everyone says, ‘Oh, it’s a risky fight,’ and they’re right. I’m putting a lot of the line and that’s my focus.”

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