Conor McGregor sensationally claimed that he is so close to a UFC comeback that he actually requested to replace the injured featherweight champion Max Holloway at UFC 222. Holloway was due to face perennial top contender and former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar in the main event of the card in New York.
Edgar has been relegated to the co-main event with a new opponent in rising star Brian Ortega. Cris Cyborg will face Yana Kunitskaya in a women’s featherweight title fight. However, McGregor said he wanted to face Edgar in a surprise comeback without the usual UFC media obligations that he normally would have to deal with.
Money talks, so it is no surprise that the UFC top brass wouldn’t want to milk every dollar from a McGregor comeback. However, Frankie Edgar’s coach Mark Henry isn’t having it. He blasted the Irishman’s claims that he wanted to save the event.
Henry wrote a lengthy response to McGregor on Instagram. In the post, he mentioned how McGregor has ducked Edgar in the past. He wrote:
“You ducked him 3 times in the past, (Frankie Edgar) and his manager (Ali Abdelaziz) asked for (Conor’s) name specifically when Max (Holloway) went down (but we knew you only take stylistically what is a good match for you and you ducked him 3x already).”
“You will NEVER EVER have the heart of Frankie or integrity,” Henry wrote. “It’s soo soo simple if your dog crap post is true fight Frankie next. Weather it be mma or boxing. (And I promise he won’t hammer fist on top your head he knows the rules). But YOU WON’T”.
One of the main criticisms of McGregor’s storied career has been that the UFC has selected easy opponents for him. That’s a controversial viewpoint that doesn’t reflect the bigger picture. It is fair to say though that many people thought that Edgar – like Khabib Nurmagamedov – could be a bad stylistic matchup for McGregor.
Edgar himself also issued a response to McGregor, after is the manager Ali Abdel-Aziz’s statement:
This is the truth. My focus is on Ortega and they all can get it after. Anytime, anywhere, any weight class 🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸 https://t.co/zUDeEa79Bk
— Frankie Edgar (@FrankieEdgar) February 22, 2018
Henry also compared McGregor’s ‘heart’ to that of his own fighter. He spoke about how some Edgar should be fighting at bantamweight but has constantly fought in higher weight classes throughout his career.
Henry makes a fair point about Edgar fighting at higher weight classes. But it must be remembered that he took a welterweight fight against Nate Diaz with less than two weeks’ notice because he didn’t want to let down his traveling Irish support.
Here’s what Ali told ESPN:
“When Max pulled out, I told the UFC, we’ll fight Conor at any weight class he wants. The UFC told us they can’t even get him to fight in his weight class. He’s become just like Floyd Mayweather. This guy doesn’t want to fight. He does what Floyd Mayweather does. He just wants to stay in the media. He likes the attention, but he’s not getting it because he’s not fighting. He should have fought Frankie two years ago. He ducked him for two years. He’s full of s—. He’s a liar.”
Mark Henry did have some respectful words for McGregor. He wrote:
“I agree Connor is an AMAZING AMAZING fighter and has transcended the game with his accent, personality, wit, incredible fighting style and power (which beat a great and one of my own guys) intelligence and don’t forget trashing some of the BEST standup I’ve ever seen in mma and I really though had a chance first 2 rds to beat Mayweather.”
The problem for Henry and Edgar is that the veteran wrestler just isn’t a lucrative enough option for McGregor in regular circumstances. The Irishman says he was happy to take the fight without the publicity circus that goes with it. However, if he has to go through all of that, he’s going to make sure it is worth his while. It’s not going to happen.