UFC 229 has come and gone, but the effect of the event on the sport isn’t going anywhere. When Conor McGregor returned to the octagon, attempting to regain his lightweight title, a record number of fans watched. Things didn’t go his way, as he was dominated by the undefeated Dagestani champion Khabib Nurmagomedov.
We all know what happened after the fight; the brawl that will be talked about forever. McGregor wants an immediate rematch, a fight he shouldn’t get. If it wasn’t for the brawl after the fight, there would be no talks of a rematch. But, the brawl happened, and here we are.
Why Conor McGregor Doesn’t Deserve a Rematch
History at Lightweight
Conor McGregor’s history at lightweight isn’t that of a fighter who should be getting title shots left and right. In business terms, sure, the guy can do whatever he wants. But, in martial arts terms, what has the man really done in the division? He won the title in his first ever fight in the division, jumping ahead of much more-deserving contenders. Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson, the top two lightweights now, were the top two then, too. Yet, Nurmagomedov was stuck on the prelims of the same UFC 205 card that McGregor got to fight for the lightweight belt.
We all know what Conor McGregor did following his win at UFC 205. Now a double UFC champion, he decided to venture into boxing. While he was away dealing with Floyd Mayweather, the division went on without him. He was eventually stripped of both titles. Ferguson ended up winning the interim title against Kevin Lee, but would eventually vacate the belt due to injuries. Khabib would then win the vacant belt against Al Iaquinta, days after the infamous bus incident in Brooklyn.
McGregor had finally decided he wanted to make his return to the octagon. Against Nurmagomedov, he would get dominated. He lost two of the first three rounds, one of which was 10-8. In the fourth round, he would tap out due to a neck crank. So, in two lightweight bouts, both for the title, McGregor is 1-1. No other athlete would get to receive an immediate rematch with that kind of a history in a division. If there is any integrity left in the sport, McGregor won’t, either.
— UFC (@ufc) October 7, 2018
More Deserving Contenders
The UFC’s lightweight division is full of killers. There are definitely two contenders who are more deserving of a title shot than Conor McGregor. An argument could be made for a third guy, too.
If title shots were only based on who is most deserving, which they should be, Tony Ferguson will be the next lightweight title challenger. As previously mentioned, he was the lightweight champion, and he never lost his belt. Yes, the matchup between Ferguson and Khabib seems like a curse. It has been attempted four times, and all four times has fallen apart. But, after his fight of the year candidate with Anthony Pettis, Ferguson proved that he is undoubtedly next in line for a shot at the champ.
Dustin Poirier has been an absolute killer in his recent octagon appearances. He has earned performance bonuses in four of his last five fights, the other ending in a no contest against Eddie Alvarez. Poirier has won four straight fights (other than the no contest) in impressive fashion. He beat down Pettis until he had to tap out due to a rib injury. Then, he knocked out Justin Gaethje in 2018’s likely fight of the year. He followed that up with a knockout of Alvarez, avenging the no contest. Poirier has been on an absolute tear, and is much more deserving of a title shot than McGregor.
Dustin Poirier earns his 12th KO in an epic battle against Justin Gaethje pic.twitter.com/el0Yxo7FSc
— FOX Sports: UFC (@UFCONFOX) April 15, 2018
This is a harder argument to make, though the argument is definitely there. He is 10-3 in the UFC. He is 6-1 in his last seven fights, with his only loss coming to Ferguson for the interim strap. In his last fight, he absolutely brutalized Edson Barboza for four and a half rounds until the fight was stopped. He is scheduled to rematch Iaquinta in December, who he lost to way back in 2012 in his promotional debut. If Lee avenges that loss and beats Iaquinta, he can definitely be ahead of McGregor in terms of who deserves a title shot.
— UFC (@ufc) April 22, 2018
Khabib is still waiting on a decision from the Nevada State Athletic Commission regarding his punishment for the brawl after UFC 229. If he receives a long suspension, Dana White has said that he will need to be stripped. Even if this is the case, McGregor still shouldn’t get a title shot. If that happened, Ferguson and Poirier should fight for the vacant belt. It’s a tough pill to swallow because of how much money he generates. But, if the sport still stands for anything, Conor McGregor’s next fight should not be for a championship.
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