Frankie Edgar has no illusions about the fight business he's a part of.
Edgar (17-4-1) fights Cub Swanson in a five-round UFC main event on Nov. 22 in Austin, Texas. On paper, it looks like a clear No. 1 contender fight. Edgar has won his last two fights; Swanson (21-5) has won six in a row. Each is universally ranked inside the top five of the 145-pound division.
But in an interview with UFC.com earlier this month, company president Dana White suggested that if champion Jose Aldo defeats Chad Mendes at UFC 179 next week in Rio de Janeiro, the No. 1 contender spot could go to Irish sensation Conor McGregor.
McGregor (16-2) is ranked below Edgar and Swanson, but Aldo has prior wins over the two already (in 2013 and 2009, respectively). Also, and this part is important, McGregor is an emerging star at the box office.
When asked for his reaction to McGregor potentially skipping ahead of him, Edgar said it's not like he didn't see it coming.
"It doesn't surprise me," Edgar told ESPN.com. "As a promoter, it's probably the smart thing to do. He's got a lot of buzz going. Why have him lose before they can make money on that fight?
"Of course, I'll be upset if that happens. I'm sure Cub will be upset. But that's the nature of this game. I do want to fight for the title after I beat Cub, but if I have to fight somebody else, what am I going to do? I can't sit around and feel sorry for myself. I have to go to work and get it done."
On McGregor's abilities, Edgar said: "I think he's talented. Dustin Poirier is not an easy fight. I think there is still some unknown with him. I'd like to see him deal with a wrestler, but he's had an answer for everything so far. Maybe he's the next Anderson Silva, who knows? But I know I match up well against him."
For the record, no decision has been made regarding a No. 1 featherweight contender, although McGregor is scheduled to appear at the UFC 179 title fight in person -- an ominous sign for Edgar and Swanson.
When asked to defend the logic behind McGregor potentially leapfrogging the Edgar-Swanson winner, White reiterated that both had lost to Aldo previously and added that Edgar has been in many title fights in the past.
"What I said in that interview is that everyone in the top five has already lost to Aldo -- and Frankie Edgar has gotten a lot of title fights, you know what I mean?"
Although Edgar, 32, can wrap his head around the idea of promoting McGregor, he does take issue with the second part of White's statement.
Edgar has been involved in seven UFC title fights, but believes he's done more than enough to earn all of them.
The fact he's been in title fights previously, shouldn't work against his chances of getting there again.
"That doesn't make much sense," Edgar said. "I've fought in a lot of title fights because I was the champion. At one point, they gave me a bunch of rematches so I was granted a rematch when I lost the belt to Ben [Henderson]. I was going to save a card for them against Aldo by taking a fight on six weeks' notice. He got injured and they kept that fight together.
"I think I've earned every single one of them, and I think I performed in every single one of them."
One of those performances was a losing effort against Aldo (24-1) at UFC 156 in February 2013. Edgar came up short in the five-round bout but arguably gave the Brazilian his toughest fight thus far in the UFC.
Edgar says he'd love to be the one to finally dethrone Aldo, who is a staple on the pound-for-pound list and hasn't lost since 2005.
But he thinks Mendes (16-1), who also has a loss to Aldo (first-round knockout in 2012), could beat him to it.
"If Aldo beats Mendes, I think Conor will get Aldo," Edgar said. "But there's no guarantee Aldo will beat Mendes.
"I think the first time they fought, Mendes was a little reluctant. I think if he goes in there like he has during this streak he's been on, he could be a nightmare for Aldo. It's a tough fight to pick, but if I'm going to pick anybody, I'll pick Mendes."