Finally, UFC president Dana White has acknowledged that current lightweight champion Conor McGregor will lose his title to the winner of Tony Ferguson vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 223 on April 7 in Brooklyn, New York.
Until now, White has been cryptic as to whether or not “Notorious” will officially be stripped of his title, stating back in January that there is “no reason” to formally do away with McGregor as champion. Many have speculated that UFC is unwilling to strip McGregor of the 155-pound crown considering this is the fourth time Ferguson and Khabib have been scheduled to fight.
Luckily, White has come around to gift the mixed martial arts (MMA) world some clarity one whole month before UFC 223 sets sail.
“That’s exactly right: As soon as one punch is thrown, it’s on for the full title and it’s only fair,” White told LA Times’ Lance Pugmire of Ferguson’s impending title fight with the undefeated Nurmagomedov. “They’ve both worked their way up to No. 1 and No. 2. They deserve a shot.”
Since capturing the 155-pound title with a knockout over Eddie Alvarez back at UFC 205 in New York City, McGregor has yet to step foot inside of the Octagon. Instead, “Notorious” has journeyed over to the boxing ring to score a massive payday in a TKO loss to undefeated legend Floyd Mayweather Jr.
It’s only fair that the lightweight division moves on in the Irishman’s absence. Sort of how McGregor’s featherweight title was stripped after he failed to defend it once in nearly a year after knocking Jose Aldo out in 13 seconds, as “Notorious” moved up to 170 pounds to fight Nate Diaz twice.
“This is good news for the fans,” White said. “I always hear about, ‘What will you do if this guy leaves …’ This is a sport first. People leave, they’ve made money and moved on. It happens.”
As McGregor takes his time to finalize a comeback, the lightweight division is officially progressing without him. With a vault full of millions the 29-year-old superstar may only have a few fights left anyways, meaning he may never actually defend a UFC title.
Stick with Mania for updates pertaining to McGregor’s long-awaited UFC return.