“I’m gonna strap one on one shoulder and one on the other shoulder and they’re gonna need a f—ing army to come take them belts off me”
That was Conor McGregor’s answer at the UFC 205 press conference when asked about possibly dropping his featherweight belt should he beat Eddie Alvarez this November to capture the UFC lightweight title and become the first fighter in UFC history to hold the title in two weight classes simultaneously. Despite what Dana White has said publicly about Conor having to drop the 145 belt should he win both, that doesn’t exactly sound like a man ready to just hand over his championship. Conor also doesn’t seem interested these days in making the hellish cut to 145 pounds for a rematch with the man he knocked out in 13 seconds for that belt, Jose Aldo. And that presents an interesting dilemma for the UFC brass. Do you strip you biggest star of a championship belt and give up a gigantic selling point of historic proportions that could garner even more attention for both Conor McGregor and the UFC? Or do you let Conor keep the distinction of being a two division champion while leaving the featherweight division in some what of a limbo?
UFC Would be Crazy to Strip McGregor of his Title if he Wins at UFC 205
There’s a right answer here, and the UFC would be completely crazy to strip McGregor of his 145 pound crown right away should he indeed take out Eddie Alvarez to capture the lightweight belt. Why take away yet another huge selling point that you can capitalize on to continue to market the biggest star the UFC has ever had?
A two division champion who knocked out the featherweight king in 13 seconds and if he does what he plans to at UFC 205, a knockout artist rampaging through two divisions. I can see the promos now with Conor holding both belts going into his next fight. It’s easy to forget in the current UFC landscape with McGregor cards breaking records that not long ago the UFC was desperately lacking in star power. Anderson Silva‘s light was fading and GSP had just walked away after a controversial decision. Then we watched the meteoric rise of Ronda Rousey and a slick talking Irishman. And now Dana White and the new UFC regime want to take away another selling point for a superstar? How quickly they forget. But there will come a time probably sooner than we can all anticipate the the MMA landscape will once again shift and we will eventually arrive at a point in the cycle of this sport where the UFC will once again be starved for a superstar, and they might wish that they had used every selling point of the McGregor mystique to earn every dollar from him that they can. Strike while the iron is hot, and the Conor iron is sizzling right now. The last thing the UFC brass should be thinking about that is doing anything to cool down that red hot glow McGregor has once again hit after winning his rematch with Nate Diaz.
You just never know how long a fighter’s stardom will last at the top of their game in a crazy sport like MMA. You don’t have to look back to far to find a perfect example of this in former UFC women’s bantamweight champ Ronda Rousey. Before he fight with Holly Holm in Australia no one would have imagined that she would spend a year not only out of the cage but completely out of the public eye. After knocking out Bethe Correia in Brazil the UFC had the biggest star in the history of their promotion and it was all gone with one swift headkick. It may look now that Conor will be flying high forever raking in dough for the UFC and headlining cards for years to come but you just never know.
The UFC should know they need to capitalize on the McGregor phenomenon while they can because it can be taken off the table in a matter of seconds in any one of his fights. It would be astronomically short cited to take even a little of the shine off Conor by stripping one of his belts immediately after he makes history, should he beat Alvarez. This is the fight game and you have to milk that slick talking cash cow while you can because they don’t come around very often. Conor can sell a fight to hardcore fans as well as casual fans and the general public and he’s also an assassin in the Octagon who backs every bit of it up. Those guys simply don’t exist most of the time in MMA. He’s a unicorn.
Those fighters come around once or twice in a decade if you’re lucky and with new owners running the show in the UFC offices looking to make the promotion even bigger than it already is, adding a little more icing on the McGregor cake wouldn’t be a bad idea. With the featherweight interim champ Jose Aldo at odds with the UFC right now, the featherweight division might be held up for a little while regardless. Even if the UFC manages to make Jose happy enough to fight for them again, they could easily have him defend his interim belt against Max Holloway in a fight that could headline a fairly big card and make fans happy for the time being while Conor struts around with his 145 title.
If Conor indeed never intends on fighting at featherweight again then he should probably drop the belt eventually but that is something to be considered down the road. Don’t take away some of the shine on your biggest star before he even gets a chance to flaunt the history he very well could make on November 12th in Madison Square Garden.