Nothing has been officially announced yet, but all signs are pointing to the UFC stripping Conor McGregor of their lightweight championship very soon, since he hasn’t defended it once since winning in from Eddie Alvarez in November 2016. You will likely recall that he spent most of 2017 hyping up a big money boxing fight with Floyd Mayweather, which he promptly lost.
The announcement could come as early as this weekend, as UFC president Dana White prepares to preside over UFC 220, a marquee PPV event featuring two title fights. During his regular promotional tour this week, White appeared on the Toucher and Rich radio show and defended his threat to remove the title from McGregor if he doesn’t agree to fight soon.
“He can’t hold up the title, can’t hold up the whole division,” White said. “There’s a lot of guys that I have to deal with every day that aren’t worth the aggravation. This kid is worth the aggravation and I have so much respect for him, what he’s accomplished, what he’s done. If he wants to ride off into the sunset with his money for the rest of his life, I don’t blame him. And if he wants to come back and fight, we’ll get him back in. He just can’t hold the division hostage.”
McGregor is easily the UFC’s biggest star, but White said they already have contingancy plans if the cocky Irishman decides to take his time coming back to octagon — if he bothers to return at all.
“You take the belt,” White continued. “In any sport, the NBA, the NFL, hockey, whatever it may be. No one guy can hold the whole sport hostage. It just doesn’t happen. When Conor was getting ready for this Mayweather fight, I was already making plans for Conor to never come back. The company and the business goes on, and there will be other stars. The NBA didn’t roll it up and pack it up when Jordan left. And they won’t when LeBron goes either. The list goes on and on.”
White also confirmed the rumors that Tony Ferguson would fight Khabib Nurmagomedov in April for the “undisputed” lightweight title, meaning the belt will be pulled off McGregor sometime between now and then. He then teased the prospect of Khabib vs. McGregor at some point later in 2018, assuming the Russian takes care of business against Ferguson.
The UFC have booked a stadium in Moscow for an unnamed event in September, but you can bet your last dollar they are praying for a McGregor vs. Nurmagomedov “champion vs. champion” type of main event to attract fans and PPV buys. And if they can make that fight a reality, you can expect a ton of money will come pouring in.