In a move that will surprise absolutely no one who is a fan of the Ultimate Fighting Championship and their star-studded lightweight division, promotion president Dana White has announced that lightweight champion Conor McGregor now has a deadline for when he must defend his title.
With multiple would-be-champions waiting in the wings, including interim lightweight champion Tony Ferguson and wrestling phenom Khabib Nurmagomedov, McGregor has given no firm date as to when he will next appear in the Octagon, despite having last fought in November of 2016.
McGregor took on Eddie Alvarez at Madison Square Garden at UFC 205.
McGregor dethroned the champion with a thrilling knockout victory but has since only competed in combat sports as a boxer, taking on Floyd “Money” Mayweather in a boxing super fight which he lost in the tenth round.
Khabib Nurmagomedov put on a stunning performance against Edson Barboza at UFC 219 just weeks ago that has obviously kick-started the UFC’s campaign to bring the Irish champion back to the octagon. The message is loud and clear: The lightweight division must finally start moving again.
“I don’t think he wants to fight until August, but if he waits until August or September, that’s around two years since the belt has been defended and that can’t happen,” said White in an interview with Kevin Iole of Yahoo Sports.
“As long as Conor is willing to fight by March, we could do Khabib vs Tony and then the winner fights Conor for the title,” he continued. “Or, if Conor wants to sit out until next fall, then we’d have to make Khabib vs Tony for the title, not the interim title.”
“I’ve never been afraid to pay Conor McGregor money,” said White. “Conor brings money in. We’ve laid out a really nice offer for him and he’s a smart kid, I think we’ll figure it out.”
“If Conor McGregor fights next year, that’ll be awesome. If Conor McGregor doesn’t fight, the UFC is going to go on. I’ve been hearing this since 2003. What are you going to do when Chuck Liddell’s gone? What are you going to do when Georges St-Pierre leaves? You’re in big trouble when Anderson Silva’s gone! The list goes on and on.”
So there you have it. McGregor comes back to the octagon by March or mixed martial arts fans will be seeing Nurmagomedov vs Ferguson for the legitimate lightweight title. What do you think of White’s announcement? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!