There’s no arguing that UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor is the biggest name in combat sports today. That’s a fact.
But despite all of his accomplishments inside of the cage and as the fastest-selling ticket in mixed martial arts (MMA), the Irishman still catches heat for never defending one of his UFC title. This includes McGregor’s featherweight strap that was stripped in November 2016 and his current 155-pound title that is expected to be taken away this April at UFC 223.
While McGregor could have waited around at 145 pounds for his first title defense after knocking out Jose Aldo in 13 seconds, he ultimately chose to test the waters against Nate Diaz (twice). And even though McGregor could have made a quick turnaround after knocking out Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205 to claim the lightweight title, he found his way into the boxing ring opposite Floyd Mayweather Jr. for a career-defining payday.
While some may knock McGregor’s choices to this point and his inability to defend either one of his UFC titles, the Irishman’s striking coach, Owen Roddy, believes it was a product of a lack of big name opponents.
“You know, and at the moment – he didn’t get to defend his featherweight belt because at the time there was nobody there for him to fight against, there just wasn’t the opponent there,” Roddy told Submission Radio earlier this week (shown above). “So, unfortunately, that’s why he had to give it up, you know what I mean? And that’s been the case at lightweight as well, there wasn’t the name to fight.”
“At the end of the day, Conor, he’s a superstar now, and he deserves the big, big paychecks that he’s garnered – obviously in his last boxing fight – he deserves these big paychecks, and there hasn’t been a big name in the UFC to match him.”
Current interim UFC lightweight champion Tony Ferguson is scheduled to take on undefeated Russian sensation Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 223 on April 7 to see who will walk away with McGregor’s undisputed title. The winner of that fight is expected to welcome Notorious” back to the Octagon this fall. That’s unless another name offers a bigger draw.
“But, you know, as I said, whoever kicks up the biggest fuss and gets the biggest, I suppose fan base behind them, he will fight,” Roddy said. “And whether it’s at featherweight, whether it’s at lightweight, or whether it’s at a different weight, you know, wherever the biggest fight is, I’m sure that’s the one Conor will take because that’s what he’s about.
“He’s not afraid to defend any belt, he’s not afraid to fight anybody, but he wants to fight the biggest fights possible,” Roddy added. “He’s the biggest name in the sport and he wants the biggest fights that he could possibly do, you know what I mean? I think that’s why people love him.”
If McGregor doesn’t sign on to fight the winner of Ferguson vs. Khabib, it’s possible that he sets his sights on a trilogy bout with Diaz or even a massive superfight with former UFC champion Georges St-Pierre.
Of course, McGregor could also opt to get revenge on Mayweather if “Money’s” recent talk holds any truth.