If you're a Conor McGregor fan then the prospect of him going up in weight to fight the winner of Rafael dos Anjos vs. Donald Cerrone, scheduled to go down tomorrow night (Sat., Dec. 19, 2015) in Orlando, should excite and delight you.
But if you're a fan of the UFC featherweight division then the news will come as something of a disappointment, as the next title defense will likely be put on hold for more than half a year.
What's next for Conor? The lightweight belt. We're going to take a little break from that cut down to 145lbs, even though this was one was the easiest so far. But in saying that, ‘easy' is a relative term. It still requires a level of discipline that 99.9% of people wouldn't have, never mind be able to compete as well the following day. So the next step will be winning the title in the 155lbs division. The current champion, Rafael dos Anjos, defends the belt against Donald Cerrone tomorrow night. Regardless of who comes out on top, we've been given the green light to fight the winner. We believe that'll be in April but I'm looking forward to this weekend's fight too. I'll be watching eagerly to see who it is. I'm expecting a close fight but if I was to bet--which I won't--I'd say Rafael dos Anjos will win it. If Frankie Edgar wants a shot at the featherweight title or Aldo wants a rematch, we're fine with that too. But they'll have to wait, because that lightweight belt is next on the agenda.
This is the clearest indication yet that McGregor's claim that he's already "king of the fight game" is a fairly accurate statement.
After all, the fact that the UFC is willing to allow the Irishman to not only vacate the featherweight division (albeit temporarily) but to leapfrog far more deserving fighters who have worked their way to the top (Khabib Nurmagomedov, Tony Ferguson) says the promotion is focused solely on maximizing that McGregor money.
Perhaps the only consolation here is that Jose Aldo left the featherweight division fairly cleaned out before he was dethroned by McGregor. If he requests and is granted a rematch, he'll need the time off to get his mind right in order to face the pound-for-pound world number one mindfuck king.
As for Frankie Edgar, nobody has a stronger claim to fight for the title than he does, but according to MMA math, one could argue he lost to Aldo, who lost to McGregor, reducing the hype for that fight.
The rest of the crowd in the official featherweight rankings (Chad Mendes, Ricardo Lamas, Cub Swanson and Max Holloway) have all lost in spectacular fashion to either Aldo, Edgar or McGregor.
But no matter how you slice it, the man who singlehandedly revitalized interest in the featherweight division has just dumped it into the bin for the next seven or eight months while he pursues his own quest for greatness.