Fourteen months ago, Conor McGregor (pictured) became the only man to ever don two UFC titles simultaneously.
It appears McGregor is about to become the only man to be stripped of two different UFC belts having never defended either one.
During Friday’s UFC 25th Anniversary press conference in Boston, UFC president Dana White introduced UFC interim lightweight champ Tony Ferguson as “the champ.” Um, if Ferguson somehow lost his “interim” moniker and is now the outright “champ,” then what does that make McGregor?
“I have no update (on McGregor). The winner of this fight will be the champion,” White stated of the highly anticipated UFC 223 shootout between Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov.
So, did White just strip McGregor of the lightweight title without flat out saying it?
“We’ll see what happens,” White vaguely said before proclaiming the victor at UFC 223 will be the “undisputed” UFC lightweight champion.
McGregor hasn’t defended his lightweight strap since beating Eddie Alvarez to capture the crown in November 2016. He took a brief and highly lucrative dip in the boxing pond this past August to challenge Floyd Mayweather Jr. in the second-highest grossing boxing match in history.
When it was all said and done, the UFC’s cash cow reportedly walked away with $100 million in defeat.
McGregor initially planned on returning to the UFC before year’s end, but it’s hard to get motivated to make peanuts in MMA after banking in boxing.
“I said it leading into the Mayweather fight, I’ve been in this business for a very long time, when you make an obscene amount of money like that, who knows if they’ll ever come back,” White said of McGregor’s hazy MMA future. “Right now, the position we’re in, Conor’s saying, ‘Maybe I’ll come back in August. Maybe I’ll come back in September.’ Well, that’s almost two years.
“That’s not fair to the rest of the guys in the division. The division has to go on.”
When pressed for a direct answer to whether he had stripped McGregor of his lightweight hardware, White merely said, “Next question.”
Losing a UFC belt without ever losing it in the cage, and without ever defending it, is nothing new to McGregor. The UFC stripped “Notorious” of his featherweight belt right after he won the lightweight gold because they didn’t want to hold up the featherweight division.
With McGregor in no apparent rush to return to the cage, White appears unwilling to wait for his golden boy at lightweight, either.
“This fight (Ferguson vs. Nurmagomedov) is ridiculous, and after this fight happens, whenever Conor does decide to come back, I think it will be massive,” White said.
UFC 223 goes down April 7 inside Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.