There’s been a lot of talk about money taking precedent over rankings in the UFC this year. Since Conor McGregor became featherweight champion in late 2015, the whole game changed.
Knocking out Jose Aldo in a blaze of glory at UFC 194, McGregor quite literally took over. Obviously the promotion always needs to make their dollars, but in turn they’ve been alienating some of the top talents.
Conor McGregor brought in more pay-per-view buys than the entire combined roster over the last 12 months. This sway allowed ‘The Notorious’ top essentially call his own shots in 2016. After two fights against Nate Diaz, the Irishman was set up to fight Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205.
Again shocking the MMA world, McGregor dismantled Alvarez to win the lightweight belt. Suddenly two divisions were topped by McGregor, and the angry reactions came even thicker and faster.
Following his epic second title win, Conor McGregor was allegedly stripped of the featherweight title. In favour of Jose Aldo being promoted and an interim bout at UFC 206, ‘The Notorious’ had one belt taken away.
Furious rants from his coach John Kavanagh and MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani circulated the web. Was the UFC stripping Mcgregor of the belt after just 11 months? According to UFC president Dana White, they were not:
It Was Conor’s Choice
“Look, I let Conor fight [Nate] Diaz and then I let him fight Diaz again,” White said of matches at UFC 196 and UFC 202, respectively, that the fighters split. “Then there was the whole 155-pound thing I let him do. But at the end of the day, him doing that tied up the division for a year. There’s a logjam there and a lot of guys were [angry].
“This was my way to fix the logjam. I wanted Aldo to fight Holloway for the belt, but he needed more time. So I looked at it and I said, well, it makes sense to make Aldo the champion and then have Holloway and Pettis fight for the interim title, and when Jose’s ready, barring any crazy injuries, the winner can fight him.”
White was surprised to learn of Kavanagh’s comments and denied he’d unilaterally stripped McGregor of the featherweight belt.
“He’s misinformed,” White said of Kavanagh. “Yeah, he doesn’t know all that has gone on, I guess. Do you think I just did this? This was Conor’s decision.”