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UFC Calgary preview: Make way for the $100 million man

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The official UFC rankings were published on Thursday (see them here) and of particular interest is the lightweight division, which came alive this week thanks to the main event of UFC on FOX 30, as well as the Brooklyn court appearance of Conor McGregor.

As it stands, “Notorious” is ranked No. 2 in the division behind interim titleholder Tony Ferguson. At No. 3 and No. 4 are Eddie Alvarez and Dustin Poirier, respectively, and they’re set to collide this Saturday night (July 28, 2018) inside Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

But things are not as cut and dry as the numbers would suggest.

McGregor, who captured the crown from Alvarez at UFC 205 in late 2016, was stripped of the strap after leaving combat sports to focus on the birth of his son, before turning his attention to Floyd Mayweather in the “sweet science.”

Ferguson, meanwhile, won 10 in a row with seven finishes to earn a title shot against the 26-0 Khabib Nurmagomedov. Unfortunately, “El Cucuy” blew out his knee and was sent to the sidelines, paving the way for “The Eagle” to claw his way past Al Iaquinta at UFC 223.

So now what?

All four contenders have a legitimate claim to the throne, though one will be eliminated when Alvarez and Poirier throw hands this weekend in “Stampede City.” That said, McGregor has a sizable advantage when it comes to box office bucks, which by default, sends him to the head of the class.

“If Conor comes back, Conor will get it,” Alvarez told The MMA Hour. “I’m a realist. This is what’s going to happen. The ability to make $100 million for the UFC is way more important than doing what’s righteous and what’s whatever for the company. They’ll have to hash out the Conor-Khabib thing, make that fight happen, have everybody make a lot of money and be happy. And whoever is sitting in the wings, who is deserving, I guess will get the next shot.”

Up until this week, there was no telling what the future had in store for McGregor. The power-punching Irishman was facing felony charges for last April’s meltdown in “The Empire State,” but managed to strike a plea deal with prosecutors that kept him outside of jail and inside the Octagon.

But whether or not he’s the first in line for the always-game “Eagle” remains to be seen, but it sounds like Alvarez, and perhaps the rest of the division Top 5, understand what happens when the promotion has an opportunity to make $100 million in pay-per-view sales.

After all, how do you think we ended up with this?

For much more on the weekend’s UFC on FOX 30 event, which also features the return of former champions Jose Aldo and Joanna Jedrzejczyk, click here.