The Dubliner will look to become a two-weight UFC Champion at UFC 205
The news poured through in the early hours of this morning that Conor McGregor will fight Eddie Alvarez for his lightweight title on November 12th in Madison Square Garden, UFC’s first trip to the iconic venue.
The MMA world expected news of the main event to be confirmed weeks ago for the historic UFC 205 event. The fact that UFC has confirmed the headline bout six weeks out from the date in ‘The Big Apple’ shows that there were some stumbling blocks along the way.
UFC were in a similar position last April when McGregor refused to travel to Las Vegas from Iceland to take part in UFC 200’s press conference.
‘The Notorious’ was removed from the card and UFC 200 went on to be remembered for a comedy of casualties that were brought about by USADA claiming “alleged doping violations” before and after the event.
Jon Jones was pulled from the card 48 hours before his meeting with Daniel Cormier and Brock Lesnar was flagged after his bout with Mark Hunt, sullying the name of the event’s two biggest draws.
McGregor went on to break the UFC’s pay-per-view record at UFC 202 the following month with his rematch against Diaz. The Irishman proved that no event was bigger than him in modern day mixed martial arts.
Despite the delays in announcing the champion versus champion bout at Madison Square Garden, everybody knew that to achieve the “historic” moment for the sport former UFC owner Lorenzo Fertitta had promised, McGregor would have to be on the card.
Earlier this month, reports claimed that Alvarez brought the negotiations to a halt by requesting more money, but the lightweight champion took to Twitter to deny those sentiments.
Even before McGregor faced Nate Diaz for the second time last month, Dana White had already issued an ultimatum. The UFC president was adamant that McGregor would either have to defend the featherweight strap in his next fight or vacate the title. Yet, along with last night’s announcement, UFC declared that McGregor would be holding on to his featherweight title for the time being.
Featherweight Title Remains
The featherweight belt staying around McGregor’s waist underlines his power within the promotion at the moment. As the company closes in on its biggest annual PPV taking for a single year, McGregor has played a starring role and will continue to do so with his top billing in New York City.
If there was one thing that seemed to be on White’s agenda, it was forcing the ‘defend or vacate’ situation on the Dubliner.
Despite McGregor and Diaz being the toast of the sporting world following their rematch, the Bostonian still maintained that the Dubliner would have to make a call one way or another with his 145 lbs aspirations. When McGregor appeared at the UFC 202 post-fight press conference, his contrary stance on the issue suggested that the power struggle that was revealed to the world in April was still alive and well.
“I don’t think they want to do that,” said McGregor on the subject of being forced to vacate his title.
“How can they do that? If they want to do that, are they really gonna give my belt to the guy that I KO’d in 13 seconds and bury that division on the prelims? That’s what would happen.
“We’ve got a lot to talk about, but I’m in beautiful, beautiful position now and that was built on hard work, and I’m going to capitalize on that.
“We’ll see. I have other stuff in the pipeline. Shit is about to hit the fan, I feel. So, we’ll see.”
At the beginning of the month, at the BAMMA 26 press conference, McGregor’s coach John Kavanagh claimed that his fighter vacating the belt was “a given” if he was booked to fight Alvarez.
“I think if the next fight is for the lightweight strap, they will take the featherweight belt off Conor,” said Kavanagh. “I think that’s a given.”
McGregor even shocked his coach with his ability to get everything on his terms for his Madison Square Garden date.
If we think he has power now, imagine if he manages to make history as the first man to ever hold two UFC title simultaneously in the iconic venue?
Expect Delays, Khabib Nurmagomedov
Dana White suggested that it would Khabib Nurmagomedov that would be granted the date with Alvarez instead of McGregor while the negotiations for the New York main event were still taking place. After the fight was announced last night, the lightweight number one contender took to social media to voice his distaste for the situation.
“I have two bout agreements that bullshit champ refuses to sign. I got used the whole time to make Conor and Eddie get on their knees and beg,” he tweeted.
I firmly believe that should McGregor topple Alvarez and claim the lightweight title, he would be happy enough to vacate the featherweight title having become the first man to hold two belts simultaneously. However, the Irishman has a habit of changing his mind when it comes to things like that.
McGregor could potentially have the option of defending both titles with a win over Alvarez, and if that is the case, Nurmagomedov could be waiting a considerable amount of time before he gets his crack at UFC gold.
Nurmagomedov has been highlighted as a stylistic nightmare for McGregor due to his stellar wrestling and the masses will call for a bout pitting the Russian against ‘The Notorious’ should he claim the lightweight title on November 12.