While Conor McGregor has been away from the Octagon, the UFC’s 155 lb division has been moving on without him.
McGregor hasn’t fought in the UFC since winning the belt against Eddie Alvarez in November 2016. Since then, Tony Ferguson has been crowned interim champion, Alvarez has gone undefeated in two contests. Justin Gaethje and Kevin Lee have emerged as legitimate contenders and Khabib Nurmagomedov has improved his pristine professional record to 25-0.
At the UFC St Louis post-fight show on Fox Sports 1, president Dana White said the undefeated Dagestani was the real test for every lightweight right now.
“There’s no doubt that Khabib is the guy to fight, but let’s remember, Khabib didn’t make weight in his last fight with Tony Ferguson which really blew things up and really screwed it all up. He came back, he looks amazing, he made weight easily, he was on weight the week of the fight.”
McGregor is closing in on setting an unwanted promotional record. If ‘the Notorious’ still holds the belt by late-February, he will have surpassed Anthony Pettis’ record of still holding the belt after 462 days without defending it. This simply cannot be, according to White.
“Conor has said he’s thinking about coming back in September. If he comes back in September that’s almost two years (since he won it). That can’t happen. It’s not fair to everybody else.”
The show must go on. If McGregor wants to sit out until September, the back-up plan is Ferguson vs Nurmagomedov for the undisputed belt. McGregor will be stripped, but he will be guaranteed a shot at the title if and when he decides to come back.
“Love Conor, respect Conor, love everything he does for this company. Everybody knows that. I say that all the time, (but) the belt would have to move on. You do Khabib vs Tony – we’re working on that right now. If and when Conor comes back, he’ll get the first crack at the title.”
When asked if stripping McGregor was a possibility, White gave a one-word response, ‘absolutely’.