"They botched it:" Ariel Helwani slams UFC's manner in stripping Conor McGregor of his belt

The MMA reporter agreed with the decision but questioned the way it was carried out

BY Sinéad Farrell 21:31 Monday 28 November 2016, 21:31 28 Nov 2016

©INPHO/Tom Hogan

Ariel Helwani believes that the UFC made a mistake in how they stripped Conor McGregor of his featherweight belt.

McGregor was stripped of his belt over the weekend, meaning he is no longer a dual-weight champion, a feat which he achieved at UFC 205. Initial reports indicated that McGregor 'relinquished' the strap but Helwani was among the first to question McGregor's willingness in parting with it.

The likely reason for the decision to take the belt is the scrapping of a headline event at UFC 206. Daniel Cormier was forced to withdraw with injury, meaning that Anthony Pettis and Max Holloway will contest for the interim featherweight belt. Former champion Jose Aldo will now take McGregor's belt.

Helwani agress with the UFC's decision to take the belt, but believes the way they conducted the process was wrong.

Speaking on the MMA Hour, Helwani said:

"The problem is the why and the how. The why is a big issue. If Daniel Cormier did not get injured, Monday morning we’re sitting here talking about Conor McGregor as the featherweight champion. Daniel Cormier’s injury led to Conor McGregor getting stripped. That alone just tells you all you need to know about this scenario. That alone tells you that this doesn’t make sense."

"Daniel Cormier’s injury should have nothing to do with the featherweight division. So that’s the why. They stripped Conor McGregor because Daniel Cormier got injured, and they needed something to headline this pay-per-view in December in Toronto."

“They botched it. They botched it epically. They botched it because if you’re going to go ahead and strip Conor, then Holloway – Pettis needs to be for the real belt. Holloway – Pettis needs to be for the real belt, and you say to Jose Aldo ‘you’re getting the first crack at the champion of this interim title, you’ve been talking about retirement, you’ve been talking about not fighting again, you’ve been talking about throwing fights, we don’t know the state of your career is, so we’re making Holloway – Pettis the real championship fight, because we just stripped the biggest draw and the biggest star of his belt’."

"That’s what they had to do. The only way that this could have been seen as controversial, as a negative towards Conor, is if they let Conor do it himself. Conor McGregor has been saying time and time again ‘I want to sit down and talk with the new owners’. They have yet to do that as of today, and so they announce that Conor McGregor has relinquished his belt, they never agreed to that. All they have done is empowered him more than ever before. He has turned into a sympathetic figure."

McGregor has yet to respond to the story, a decision which Helwani said is the 'perfect move in my opinion.' 

"He is telling you, by not saying anything, that he is very upset. The why and the how were the big mistake in which they did it, in my opinion. They needed to get Conor on board, they needed to fly to Dublin and needed to give him the respect."

"It’s a disservice to Holloway and Pettis, who are going to have an amazing fight in a couple of weeks, it’s a disservice to Jose Aldo, and it’s a disservice to Conor McGregor."

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