UFC fighter chats to Peter Carroll
It came as a big surprise to Irish MMA fans to hear that a long time rival of Conor McGregor, Frankie Edgar, would be visiting Dublin’s Clonsilla Inn on January 20th for a meet and greet.
Edgar was deemed to have "The Answer" to the Irishman’s spectacular striking displays by media members and fans alike, and those who claimed that McGregor had been ducking fights in the featherweight bracket often used the New Jersey native as an example of a fighter who had been avoided.
Even Edgar admits that he was taken aback when he was first told about the event.
“It was a little surprising, but I’m excited to get over there because I’ve heard a lot about how beautiful it is,” he tells me from his Tom’s River stomping ground. “Everyone I ever met from Ireland has been great, so I’m pumped to get over there.
“The Irish are extremely passionate people. They really get behind their own. Believe me, I’ve noticed how much they love their Irish fighters, but I’ve never really had negativity from them.
“I just want to get over there and kick it with the fans. I won’t have to worry about promoting fights or anything like that. I just want to have some fun and let them see the real me.
“I’ve got so many damn kids I can’t really stay around that long, but I’ll definitely have a pint or two while I’m there.”
The McGregor show rolled into New York last month for UFC 205, a card that many felt deserved the headline bout pitting Edgar against the Dubliner. Edgar received a hero’s welcome into the iconic venue before he took a victory over Jeremy Stephens, of “who the f**k is that guy” fame, but he couldn’t help but ponder, if only briefly, what may have been had he taken on McGregor at the historic event.
“At Madison Square Garden, there was a point where I took it all in and kind of said, ‘this would have been cool if it was me and Conor’, but at that point I knew it was already done.
“As well as that, my teammate was getting ready to fight him, so the attention kind of got put on that and I just focused on Jeremy Stephens.
“A fight with me and Conor would have been great for the fans and both of us. Who knows what will happen in the future? I think UFC will definitely come back to the Garden, so who is to say me and Conor won’t fight a couple of years down the road?”
The main block to their matchup now appears to be the fact that UFC have stripped McGregor of his featherweight title. For a lot of people, the only thing that would ever see McGregor return to 145 lbs was defending that title. Despite his forced exit from his championship pedestal, Edgar refuses to rule out the possibility of them meeting in the future.
“I’ll never say never on that fight. I can see a number of different possibilities that could see that fight happening. I could always go back up to 155 too. Conor really isn’t my focus right now. Obviously I don’t know how realistic that could be in the future, but I would never turn that fight down if it came up.”
Jose Aldo being handed McGregor’s undisputed title obscures Edgar even more from a future title fight. Having come up short against Aldo on two occasions, it seems unlikely that UFC will be rushing to book a trilogy fight between him and Brazilian.
“Of course I got that feeling, but really, I think it all depends on what happens in his next fight. People aren’t really going to want to see me fight him again for a third time, so a lot is riding on his next fight.
“I think it’s going to be interesting to see what happens when him and Max [Holloway] fight. It’s not so long ago that Aldo said that he’s contemplating retirement. It’s hard to know what’s going on in his head and what’s going on in the long run.”
As for the new interim champion Max Holloway, Edgar has nothing but good things to say about the dynamic Hawaiian.
“I think Max is a stud. He’s as ready as I’ve ever seen anyone, and he’s only 25-years-old. I’ve been really impressed with everything that he’s been doing. He’s the present and future of the featherweight division as I see it. I still think I match up very well with him, and I think we’ll be crossing that bridge sooner or later.”
Edgar is interested in competing at UFC 208 in Brooklyn on February 11th, which would obviously make sense to UFC based on the former lightweight champion’s following in New York. There have been plenty of obituaries written for the featherweight division ever since McGregor has been stripped of his title, but Edgar believes there are still plenty of compelling fight to be made in the weight class.
“I just don’t buy into it when people say the division is dead without him,” he says. “Conor holds a lot of weight. He brings an amazing amount of attention to every event that he is a part of.
“I think the featherweight division is still very interesting without him. We have a lot of great fighters down here. I think there are a lot of great fights to put on. The featherweight division was here before Conor and it will be here after him.
“I really don’t think he should have been stripped. They should have made him defend it first, but I think the division will sort itself out over the next few months.”
It was rumoured that Mark Henry could be making the trip to Dublin with Edgar, which would definitely stir up some interest based on his back and forth with John Kavanagh ahead of UFC 205.
While Henry became a target for the Irish fans when he was seeking a meeting between Edgar and McGregor, he later endeared himself to the nation when he publicly apologized to McGregor for some of his comments.
Edgar found his usually quiet coach’s antics as entertaining as we did, and he is still trying his best to talk the celebrated coach’s wife into allowing him to appear at the Clonsilla Inn on January 20th with him.
“I’ve been working on getting Mark over here. I’ve been putting pressure on his wife to let him come, but nothing is set in stone. We’ll see. He’s got a lot of fights coming up, which requires a lot of travelling. He just needs the clearance from his old lady!” he laughs.
“It was funny to see him put himself out there because for the longest time he flew under the radar. Sometimes it takes a polarizing character to bring that out of someone as quiet as Mark, but it was good to see. It was entertaining for a lot of the fans.”