Earlier this month, Conor McGregor knocked out Eddie Alvarez to win the UFC lightweight title. Given that the Irishman already owned the featherweight crown, this made him the first fighter in UFC history to hold titles in two weight classes simultaneously.
It was a short-lived reign as two-division king. Weeks after winning the lightweight title, McGregor was stripped of the featherweight belt. At the same time, interim featherweight champ Jose Aldo was promoted to undisputed champ, while it was announced that Max Holloway and Anthony Pettis would vie for interim featherweight gold in the new main event of UFC 206.
Given that McGregor had taken three consecutive fights without defending the featherweight belt, many fans considered this a smart play. Other members of the MMA community, however, were not so sure about the decision. McGregor’s coach John Kavanagh was part of this latter group:
“They felt they had to make this for a title in order for it to sell so they brought in another interim title that Jose Aldo already has and then bumped Jose Aldo up to the current undisputed champion. Which just seems ridiculous to me.”
“Conor has only been [champ] 11 months since he won that title. There have been many, many examples of fighters waiting 15 months, 18 months before defending it. He’s 11 months and they stripped him of it. I thought it was very short-sighted by the UFC how they went about doing it.”
UFC President Dana White, however, offered a different account of the events that led to McGregor’s dropping the featherweight belt. He gave his take in an interview with Yahoo Sports.
“Look, I let Conor fight [Nate] Diaz and then I let him fight Diaz again,” White explained. “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 [featherweight] 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.”
Yet the key difference in White’s version of the story is that McGregor made the decision to drop the featherweight belt himself.
“He’s misinformed,” White said of Kavanagh’s account. “He doesn’t know all that has gone on, I guess. Do you think I just did this? This was Conor’s decision.”
Do you believe Kavanagh’s side of the story, or White’s? Sound off, PENN Nation!