LEON EDWARDS is said to have been "offered" step-aside money in order to allow Conor McGregor to fight welterweight champion Kamaru Usman.
The pride of Birmingham is currently the next in line to challenge the dominant Usman for the 170lb strap.
But former two-division champion McGregor recently thrust his name into the title picture with a shock call-out of the Nigerian Nightmare – which former UFC star Chael Sonnen has claimed – without an ounce of proof – has resulted in a step-aside offer being sent Edwards' way.
He said: "I am being told that Leon has been offered his show and his win [money], whatever was negotiated for Leon to fight Kamaru is being offered to him.
"'We will mail you a cheque to step aside. We have the right to push you aside, we don’t want any hard feelings and we acknowledge that you deserve this.
"So, we are going to send you what you agreed on and you get to stay home.’ With the belief being that Conor’s going to step in.
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"I don't believe this rumour by the way, I'm just sharing with you anytime you don't have something locked up.
"Leon [vs Kamaru] is not done. There are some real moving parts there, quite frankly I don't know if we are going to see Kamaru Usman fight in two years from now."
Step-aside offers are unheard of in mixed martial arts, especially in the UFC.
If one is made, slick southpaw Edwards is unlikely to take it as he's fought tooth and nail to get his crack at UFC gold.
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Additionally, Edwards and McGregor are both represented by the same management company.
Pound-for-pound king Usman is currently recovering from hand surgery and is eyeing a July return to the octagon.
And Africa's first UFC champion is hoping Edwards – who he defeated in December 2015 – will be his next assignment.
He told SunSport: "That's what I want.
"But of course, I have to take the necessary measures to make sure that I prepare [for the fight properly].
"And my hand is something that; these are the money makers. So I have to make sure that it's healed completely before actually jumping back in there."
MMA superstar McGregor, 33, hasn't fought since breaking his leg in his trilogy fight with Dustin Poirier last July.
And UFC president Dana White expects the Irishman to be back in action in the autumn.
He told SunSport: "If his leg heals right and he gets the clearance to really start training, then possibly early fall."
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