He did it.
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) featherweight champion and newly-crowned UFC lightweight champion, Conor McGregor, became the first mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter under the UFC banner to simultaneously hold championship titles in two different weight classes.
[hold for applause]
After moving up to welterweight division with mixed results, McGregor made good on his promise to stop Eddie Alvarez in the UFC 205 pay-per-view (PPV) main event last night (Sat., Nov. 12, 2016) inside Madison Square Garden in New York City (full results here). A fitting end for a fight card that was not only billed as the greatest of all time, but the first for UFC inside "The World’s Most Famous Arena."
Welcome to Mt. Olympus, Mr. McGregor.
His victory will bring the requisite accolades — deservedly so — but also a rare conundrum for the biggest star in combat sports. Promotion president Dana White decreed "Notorious" will be ineligible to hold one division hostage while defending a title in another, which is laughable when you consider that’s pretty much what’s been happening (sans second strap) ever since McGregor captured the 145-pound crown from Jose Aldo at UFC 194
Two championship titles, zero title defenses.
If White holds firm and forces McGregor to cough up one of his belts, the trash-talking Irishman will have to pick the lesser of two evils, assuming he doesn’t make another run at the welterweight division. Not that I want to speak for McGregor, but the idea of trying to stand and bang with a power-punching wrestler like Tyron Woodley, who showed us in round one of his "Wonderboy" fight just how dangerous he can be, seems like a fool’s errand.
Despite what Gordon Gekko claims, greed is not always good.
Waiting for McGregor in the featherweight division is a couple of familiar (and conquered) faces, like interim champion Jose Aldo and No. 3-ranked contender Max Holloway. Also in the top five are Frankie Edgar (No. 2) and Anthony Pettis (No. 6), though Holloway vs. Pettis at UFC 206 will eliminate one of those names. Certainly a tough field, but the greatest challenge facing McGregor in the 145-pound division may be his grueling weight cut.
The lightweight division may bring about a more bearable training camp and is likely to leave McGregor more physically powerful, but the top half of the division he now rules is chock full of bloodthirsty savages. Chief among them is undefeated fighting sensation Khabib Nurmagomedov, who chewed up and spit out No. 6 ranked contender Michael Johnson on the "Prelims" portion of UFC 205, which aired on FOX Sports 1 earlier in the night (watch it). The thought of "Eagle" getting his talons on the long and lean frame of
a bum like "Notorious" reads like the script of a snuff film.
I’d watch anyway.
Neck-and-neck with Nurmagomedov is lightweight boogeyman Tony Ferguson, winner of nine straight with six violent finishes. Elsewhere in the field, Nate Diaz is ranked No. 4 at 155 pounds and the wily Stockton slugger is the last man to beat McGregor. Sure, he’s not deserving of a division title shot, but when has that ever stopped UFC? Personally, I believe the most favorable match up — as well as the most lucrative payday — will influence McGregor’s choice when it’s time to get back inside the cage.
But that decision is unlikely to come before the end of the year.
Until then, he can spend the next few months gloating while taunting contenders across two divisions. In addition, White and Co. will be forced play cat-and-mouse as McGregor scurries across several continents with championship belts in tow.
In a word, immortality.