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The fighting pride of Toms River, N.J. has been chasing the Irish superstar for the better part of the last year with frustrating results. Edgar was acknowledged by UFC President Dana White on multiple occasions as the next contender for the 145-pound crown, only to be bumped back and skipped over time and time again.
None of it sits well with the former lightweight champion.
This turn of events led the typically reserved Edgar to lash out across media platforms as he fought in the realm of public view to claim his stake at the top of his division. The highly anticipated matchup between Edgar and McGregor has yet to come to fruition due to “Notorious” competing in a weight class two steps up from the one he lords over, but Edgar is done waiting around.
The 34-year-old has been slated to face Jose Aldo at UFC 200 on July 9 in a battle that will determine the interim featherweight champion.
“I was obviously disappointed because I wanted to fight Conor [McGregor] for the real title, but if this isn’t a consolation prize I don’t know what is,” Edgar said. “I get redemption against Aldo and a guarantee for the title shot I want. After I beat him there will be no ‘ifs’ or ‘let’s see what’s next.’ This is going to cement the next fight being for the title I want.”
While there is the added incentive of his next bout being for the interim title, it is a move that make very little sense where Edgar is concerned. But he also doesn’t see any use in trying to figure things out any longer. Instead, the New Jersey native has locked his focus on Aldo and their upcoming rematch.
“I get why the UFC is doing it because it gives the card a little more clout. But I think it actually kind of takes away some of the legitimacy of the real title, to be honest,” Edgar said. "I’ve been a champion and want to be a champion again. If this is what I have to do to accomplish that then so be it.”
When Edgar and Aldo collide at UFC 200, it will come just north of three years since their initial meeting at UFC 156. On that night back in February of 2013, Aldo edged out Edgar on the judges’ cards to hand “The Answer” his third consecutive loss. Edgar acknowledges the former champion caught him during the toughest period of his career the first time. But he also recognizes how things turned around for him after the loss.
Edgar will enter the rematch with Aldo on a five-fight winning streak, with his most recent victory being the most definitive of his current run. He sent a message to the UFC brass when he knocked out two-time title challenger Chad Mendes in the first round of their December fight.
Though his opponent is coming off his first loss in more than a decade, Edgar isn’t buying too much into potential after-effects on Aldo’s psyche. He expects to face the former title holder in his top form, because that kind of redemption would mean the most to him.
“Since our last fight three years ago I’ve become a more complete and confident fighter,” he said. “You never know how a fighter is going to come out. Some feel their backs are against the wall and come out amazing and others don’t. I’m fully expecting him to bring it at UFC 200. I have to prepare for his best and I’m going to do what needs to be done to get this belt. Then it’s on to the one I want.”