After sending one of the division’s top contenders home empty-handed courtesy of a last-second submission, most fighters would be celebrating for a week while planning their own historic rise to the top of the weight class.
But for a seasoned veteran and former champion like Frankie Edgar, last weekend’s win over Cub Swanson was little more than the status quo for a fighter who has made a career out of battling, and often beating, the best in the business.
Still, there’s one loss that now haunts Edgar in his quest to earn another shot at the featherweight title, and in a crowded weight class stacked with legitimate threats to the 145-pound belt, there’s no guarantee that ”The Answer” will get a chance to avenge his loss to current king Jose Aldo and become the division’s new champion.
Following consecutive losses to Benson Henderson in 2012, both for the lightweight belt, Edgar’s decision to drop down to the featherweight division resulted in what was essentially an immediate title shot in his 145-pound debut at UFC 156 in February of 2013.
Five rounds later, Edgar found himself on the wrong end of a unanimous decision that some felt the former lightweight champ should have won. But instead of beginning his featherweight career with a victory over the only champion that the division has ever known and one of the most dominant competitors in the sport, Edgar came away from his first swim through the 145-pound waters with his third straight loss and a not much hope for a rematch.
Since, the proud native of Toms River, New Jersey has gone 3-0 with a trio of victories over Charles Oliveira, BJ Penn, and Swanson. But while Edgar was busy trying to win his way back to a title shot, the featherweight division found a new star that shines even brighter than Aldo’s, and that new star is the seemingly-unstoppable force known as Conor McGregor.
Currently listed as the division’s fifth-ranked contender by UFC.com, McGregor’s somewhat surprising knockout-win over Dustin Poirier in the opening round of their highly-anticipated meeting in September has placed the Irishman at, or near the top of a very short list consisting of the few qualified featherweight contenders who have yet to face Aldo.
But because of Edgar’s previous loss to Aldo and the tidal wave of interest behind a fight between McGregor and the currently-unbeatable Brazilian, the former wrestler may be forced to wait for his shot at revenge.
Aside from that, there’s also a financial obstacle now directly in Edgar’s path to a second crack at the featherweight belt.
Due to both McGregor’s unrivaled popularity and the fact that he’s never faced Aldo, the UFC has an extremely rare, and unbelievably lucrative opportunity to create what would arguably be the biggest, and most watched, fight in MMA history by scheduling the Irishman to meet Aldo in a main event showdown for the 145-pound belt.
As expected, the UFC seems determined to hit the cash register at every step of McGregor’s climb to the top of the division. If McGregor were to face Edgar and lose before getting his shot at Aldo however, much of the hype that surrounds a featherweight title fight between two men that have never lost in the UFC would evaporate.
Before that can even become an issue, McGregor will have to get through a meaningless meeting with Dennis Siver in January-a questionable matchup that makes one wonder if the UFC has let the prospect of another McGregor-fueled payday stand in the way of common sense.
Where does this leave Edgar? For now, it’s left the former champ teetering between a shot at revenge and another bout against a relevant, top-ten contender while he waits for either McGregor and Siver to sort things out, or, to learn the identity of his next opponent.
Fortunately, because Edgar has lost just once to Aldo while top-ranked Chad Mendes was handed a championship death-sentence with his second loss to the Brazilian last month, ”The Answer” is essentially the division’s top contender.
But as we’ve seen in the past, that doesn’t mean that Edgar will get the title shot he’s due anytime soon.