Conor McGregor returned to hard sparring specifically to fight Frankie Edgar
Once the fight became available, Conor McGregor was dead serious about fighting Frankie Edgar.
When Conor McGregor claimed that he 'cleaned out' the featherweight division, Frankie Edgar's team were the first to object.
During his sensational run at 145 lbs, the most notable top contender McGregor didn't beat was Edgar. He stunned Dustin Poirier with one shot, floored Chad Mendes then reduced Jose Aldo's granite chin to rubble. After winning the belt, he immediately moved up. This left then-number one contender Edgar in limbo.
The fact that he never fought 'The Answer' is unlikely to impact on his legacy as much as failing to defend a title. However, once Max Holloway was pulled from UFC 222's main, McGregor saw an opportunity.
Obviously, McGregor didn't make his return against Edgar at UFC 222. Instead, Brian Ortega stepped in and became the first man to finish the Toms River native. It worked out well for the promotion who gained a fascinating featherweight title fight with a fresh contender. And, according to the reports, they didn't have to grant McGregor his request for a shot at the non-existent 165 lb title.
For the people who doubted McGregor's intentions of actually fighting Edgar on short notice, there is sufficient evidence to suggest he probably wanted that fight. Although Dana White's words are hardly ironclad, he confirmed it. Striking coach Owen Roddy backed up these claims to Submission Radio.
“I got the call off Conor almost a little under a month out, just kind of out of the blue, ‘oh yeah, look, Holloway’s out of the fight, they’re looking for a replacement to fight Frankie so I’m up for it, I’m thinking of doing it’ ‘So I was like, ‘well, alright, let’s see what the craic is,’ and we went in and he sparred."
Frankie's career deserved for that to be against me tonight.
Love and respect always!
A true fighters fighter ❤
— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) March 4, 2018
Bringing out the dog in him
Roddy added that McGregor returned to hard sparring specifically for a match-up with Edgar. They used a sparring partner with a similar style to Edgar and things were looking pretty good in the gym. The very next day, McGregor tried to secure the fight, but at that stage, it was gone.
"He hadn’t sparred too hard in a while, so like went in and had a good, tough spar with one of the guys similar to Frankie’s size, similar style and stuff like that, and then looked amazing. And he’s like, ‘yeah, what do you think?’ I was like, ‘you look fresh. You know what to expect from Frankie, you’re not going to get anything like, his stand-up before in the past, you know, all his career, the kind of style of fighter he is, you know what you’re gonna get with him and you look great.’"
The good news is that McGregor has got 'the bug again' and has kept up the intensity in training, Roddy claims. This one may not have come to pass, but there could be another opportunity around the corner.