When Max Holloway pulled out of his scheduled featherweight title defense against Frankie Edgar due to injury, UFC management was scrambling to find a replacement.
And they did – undefeated Brian Ortega will take a big step up in competition as he joins Edgar in the UFC 222 headliner. But another well-known fighter reportedly put his name out there as a potential replacement for Holloway – a man who hasn’t fought in the UFC in over a year.
Conor McGregor has been somewhat of an afterthought in MMA lately, an odd thing to say about the promotion’s lightweight champion. After winning the title from Eddie Alvarez in late 2016, McGregor turned his attention to the boxing ring.
But his desire to pursue a super fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr. meant MMA fans wouldn’t be seeing much of him for a while. McGregor was the first man to hold UFC titles in two different weight classes simultaneously. While he’s yet to be stripped of the lightweight title officially, he surrendered his featherweight title previously.
This led the 145-pound division to find a bit more clarity, with Holloway emerging as the top fighter. McGregor hadn’t fought at that weight since he knocked out longtime champ Jose Aldo in the first round at UFC 194. But that didn’t stop him from reportedly offering to step in against Edgar.
McGregor said he was, “excited about bouncing in last minute and taking out the final featherweight, without all the rest of the stuff that comes with this game.” McGregor also explained the reason the UFC turned down his offer, saying they didn’t have time to generate the money needed to make the fight happen.
Money has been the big factor that McGregor’s eventual return hinges on. After making a massive payday in the cross-promotional boxing match, he likely has enough money to retire comfortably if he chose. But some fans have hoped McGregor’s penchant for competition and his desire to be the best will bring him back.
As for Edgar, he says the idea of McGregor stepping in his news to him. He stated he was never approached about the bout, first seeing the news on social media.
Edgar’s manager informed him that McGregor did in fact seek out a big short-notice fight at UFC 222. However, he asked for it to be for a 165-pound championship. That championship doesn’t exist, the closest thing being the welterweight championship which 170-pound fighters contest for.
Edgar noted that McGregor didn’t even defend his own belt, but also said he’d welcome a fight with him. Edgar said: “That’d be great for me. Let’s be real. I’m not scared to fight anybody. Come on, I’ve been doing too long to be scared to fight anybody. I mean, if anything, that would be very good for me, to fight Conor McGregor.”
McGregor may still be on the sidelines, but the divisions he once ruled are moving on. While Edgar will battle Ortega, lightweights Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov are set to do battle for the lightweight championship at UFC 223.