With the wheels threatening to come off the McGregor bandwagon at any minute, it comes as no surprise that Conor McGregor is being considered to face Rafael dos Anjos at 155 for the lightweight belt. But why does he get to skip all the other lightweight contenders?
It has to be asked; does Conor McGregor deserve to change weight class and jump right into a title fight? After all, he would be skipping many at 155 who have been waiting years for that opportunity.
On the face of things, he probably doesn’t deserve it. However the UFC and its matchmaking team may just want to follow the money, and right now, McGregor v. dos Anjos is where the money is.
McGregor has fought at 155 before and was a dual champion in Cage Warriors, holding both the welterweight belt and the lightweight belt. His aim is to do the exact same in the UFC, potentially ignoring an immediate defence at 145.
McGregor’s coach John Kavanagh has spoken about the difficulties of cutting to 145 for McGregor. The Irishman’s gaunt face at weigh-ins in confirmation of that.
When asked what was next for McGregor, Kavanagh had this to say:
“The lightweight belt. We’re going to take a little break from that cut down to 145lbs. […] If Frankie Edgar wants a shot at the featherweight title or Aldo wants a rematch, we’re fine with that too. But they’ll have to wait, because that lightweight belt is next on the agenda.”
On his podcast, Joe Rogan said that a rematch with Jose Aldo is too hard to market. It’s a fair point. The promotion for Aldo v. McGregor toured the world for the best part of a year and produced a 13 second show. What was marketed as a roaring battle materialised as a premature whimper.
A rematch would be customary for a long-standing champion such as Aldo who is the only Featherweight champion in UFC history. Despite this, it seems that Dana White and the UFC matchmaking team are looking at other options.
One of those options is to allow McGregor to fight at 155 against Rafael dos Anjos. Dos Anjos shut Donal ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone down with just over a minute of the first round gone. After his win he had this to say:
“Hey, Mr McGregor, if you want to come to our lightweight division, this is my division man, it’s better to stay in featherweight division. I will fight you in Brazil, I will go to Ireland to face you there, wherever you want man, I’m here to stay.”
Cowboy had won 8 fights straight on his way to becoming the number 1 contender for the lightweight belt. So it’s understandable that fighters in the lightweight division are annoyed that McGregor can come in and take all of their work away. One such scorned fighter was Nate Diaz.
Diaz threw an expletive-laden challenge at the Irishman after he dismantled Michael Johnson in what many have described as his best outing to date. He looked impressive throughout his fight and currently sits 7th in the lightweight rankings.
It probably isn’t a popular opinion, but would it not be more suitable to match Diaz with McGregor in a fight for a shot at the title? McGregor has dominated the featherweight division but it doesn’t give him the right to skip over all of the other contenders, a point that Diaz made in his post-match rant.
“Conor McGregor, you’re taking everything I worked for m**herf**ker, I’m gonna fight your f**king ass!”
You can see his point, it seems unfair to let McGregor skip the queue and take a title opportunity that many in that division have fought for years to achieve. If dos Anjos lost to McGregor, then he would probably get a rematch, pushing contenders like Diaz further away from their chance.
The fact remains that dos Anjos v. McGregor is a very attractive fight. Both are division champions and both won their last fights with frightening ease. Despite this, UFC would be making a mistake in throwing McGregor into a title fight in the lightweight division.
McGregor v. Diaz will interest the powers that be as an extremely marketable fight. Diaz is similar to McGregor in many ways, one of those ways is getting into the mind of his opponent with taunts and insults before a punch is thrown. It’s a fight that many fans want to see.
This article isn’t calling for McGregor v. Diaz in particular, rather, a contender for dos Anjos’ belt. In the interest of fairness and due process McGregor really shouldn’t even be considered for this title fight.
You could lay out a convincing title shot argument for most of the top 8 or so lightweight contenders. However, it is most likely that Crumlin born McGregor will supersede them all by virtue of his marketability and confrontational manner.
Then there’s the featherweights who have to wait for a chance while McGregor is off gallivanting in the lightweight division!
Since losing to McGregor in a unanimous decision in 2013, Max Holloway has notched 8 consecutive wins, including a submission against Cub Swanson. Former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar is currently ranked 3rd in the featherweight division and should be next in line for a shot at McGregor’s belt.
Both Holloway and Edgar would be denied that rightful opportunity and instead be forced to eke out an undisputed no.1 contender spot in McGregor’s absence. The very notion of an ‘undisputed’ contender highlights the potential for a dilution of process should McGregor flit between divisions.
MMA is already viewed by many as an animalistic sport with no rules. Even though this is obviously far from being true, the powers that be at the UFC aren’t helping by throwing due process out the window.
It’s all very exciting seeing a crossover of divisions and the potential for a dual-weight champion however the UFC need to be careful that they don’t upset the balance and anger the roster in the process.