It appears that we have our concrete answer when it comes to whether or not Conor McGregor will be keeping his UFC lightweight championship.
As most know by now, at UFC 223 next month, on April 7, Tony Ferguson will be taking on Khabib Nurmagomedov for Ferguson’s interim title. Although…that is no longer the case as UFC President, Dana White told ESPN today that the fight will be over the undisputed title come fight time as BJPenn.com’s own Chris Taylor first confirmed back in January:
Breaking! I have confirmed with sources that Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov will fight for the undisputed UFC lightweight title at #UFC223 in Brooklyn. The bout will be made official later this week. McGregor will be stripped of his title. The bout was 1st reported by TASS
— Chris Taylor (@CTaylor_96) January 16, 2018
White: “That’s exactly right. As soon as one punch is thrown, it’s on for the full title and it’s only fair. They’ve both worked their way up to No. 1 and No. 2. They deserve a shot. This is good news for the fans. I always hear about, ‘What will you do if this guy leaves…’ This is a sport first. People leave, they’ve made money and moved on. It happens.
Conor does want the belt, he does want to be the champion, but he doesn’t want to defend it. I’d love to see him fight the winner of Ferguson-Khabib next.”
Khabib’s manager, Ali Abdelaziz also confirmed this news when speaking with The Times.
“McGregor will no longer be champion…he’s going to be stripped. One hundred percent, the contract says that, and the UFC was on board, too.”
White also told ESPN that the reason for no solid answers up to this point has been because of the worry of this fight not happening…again. Ferguson and Khabib have been scheduled to square off on three separate occasions.
Since what was supposed to be their last meeting at UFC 209, Ferguson would go on to capture the interim title by defeating Kevin Lee by third-round submission at UFC 216 and Khabib would dominate Edson Barboza from bell to bell at UFC 219.
Regardless of this decision, McGregor’s future has been up in the air. From the looks and sounds of it, he could be staying in boxing for a rematch with Floyd Mayweather but nothing appears to be close to official.
What do you think of this decision? Is it the right move?
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 3/2/2018.