— UFC Europe (@UFCEurope) January 19, 2018
The UFC held their big 25th-anniversary press conference today that featured UFC 222 and UFC 223 headliners Frankie Edgar and Featherweight champion, Max Holloway as well as Khabib Nurmagomedov and Interim Lightweight champion, Tony Ferguson. Of course, the biggest question that everyone was having was, “so is this Lightweight title fight for the interim or undisputed title…?”
If the answer was undisputed, then that would mean that current undisputed Lightweight champion, Conor McGregor would be/have been stripped of his title. White didn’t say that that was the case when asked initially, but after being interviewed by Aaron Bronsteter backstage at the conference, White clarified that McGregor will have to agree to fight the winner sometime before UFC 223. Otherwise, the title fight between Ferguson and Nurmagomedov would be for the undisputed title and make him a champion no more.
Bronsteter: As of today, this moment, it has not been set for the title but if he [McGregor] doesn’t commit to defending the title…I guess leading up to that fight, that fight’s just for the undisputed title and you’re going to move on?
Bronsteter: Okay so as of right now, he’s still technically the champion?
White: Correct. It was pretty simple, you just laid it out. It’s because we made it very clear, no translator needed.
Conor McGregor hasn’t fought in MMA since November of 2016 at UFC 205 when he defeated Eddie Alvarez to become the new UFC Lightweight champion. Since then he’s only competed once which was in a boxing match in August against Floyd Mayweather. Meanwhile, in the UFC, an interim title was created and expected to be fought over between the pair of Nurmagomedov and Ferguson at UFC 209. Unfortunately, weight cutting complications led to Nurmagomedov’s backing out of the fight and Ferguson wound up fighting Kevin Lee at UFC 216 for the title where he won by third-round submission(triangle choke).
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 1/19/2018.