‘I want them to beg me’, posted Conor in an instagram post in response to the three callouts directed at him at the most recent UFC fight night. It appears that Frankie Edgar is obliging. His slightly bizarre claims of McGregor ducking him has left many fans and commentators scratching their heads, coming just two weeks after McGregor’s 13 second KO to complete the Featherweight ascendancy he predicted as a spotty faced teen.
On the one hand, we have Conor McGregor. Newly crowned featherweight champion who’s brash persona and unprecedented superstardom is single-handedly changing the game.
On the other, we have Frankie Edgar, who’s humility endears him to all on the MMA fan spectrum. More importantly, he’s on a five fight tear that includes Hall of Fame’r BJ Penn, a ‘performance of the night’ honour against Cub Swanson and a devastating KO of top three contender Chad Mendes. Following the last victory, he was promised a title shot personally by Dana White in front of MMA journalists at the post fight presser.
So Frankie Edgar’s transparent attempts to force the title shot aren’t by any means unreasonable, however outlandish they may seem. Frankie recognises he has very little influence in the direction of the UFC-McGregor hype train. For that matter, even UFC brass may realise that it’s probably out of even their hands at this point. The McGregor hype has transcended boiling point, passing all past past points of comparison to a stage in which very few can influence the decisions his career decisions at this point.
So Frankie is playing the modern MMA matchmaking game. Nate Diaz is doing the same. Charles Oliveira, Nate Diaz, Tony Ferguson and Max Holloway are doing the same. McGregor is the money fight, accompanied by the accolade of becoming the fighter that was able to survive the mental warfare and dethrone the self-described ‘king of the game’. It undoubtedly irks Frankie to see so many fighters jumping the gun ahead of a fighter who has earned a title shot moreso than any other fighter on the UFC roster. This is why we’re seeing him abandon his laid back back style and attempt to demand Conor’s attention.
In my view, he’s going about this the wrong way. His claims have looked desperate and transparent; nobody is going to take his claims of the last week seriously, least of all McGregor.
He could always of course wait for Conor to fight at Lightweight and return to take another Featherweight fight. A win against Aldo or Holloway would cement his credentials as a number one contender. This does very little to advance his position, however. Nobody is doubting his right to a shot, so he has already reached the end of the road in that particular route to the title.
Edgar is unlikely to penetrate McGregor’s proclaimed’bullet proof’ mindset. He can’t compete with Diaz by trash talking, whereas the RDA fight has the natural appeal of establishing Conor as the first two division champion. His best bet is to appeal to Conor’s financial ambition, appealing to the fans and generating genuine interest for the fight at a grass-roots level.
Clearly the best way to do this is to advertise the stylistic match-up he provides. His wrestling credentials, high volume striking and recently demonstrated KO power would present McGregor with a challenge that many feel should have been provided in the Aldo fight, leading various commentators to speculate that Frankie may be McGregor’s toughest fight in the LW division.
I’m convinced that the fan appeal for this fight is already there. Most fans that have followed MMA for a while will be familiar with Edgar’s appeal, but this untapped potential needs a catalyst to translate to more casual fans and the fight will sell itself. Frankie just needs to realise that this to access this is through sticking to his personality that has got him this far for just a little longer.