Conor McGregor will return to UFCthis year, just not as a champion. Instead, he could be thrust into a massive fight against Khabib Nurmagomedov.
|Conor McGregor. (Reuters)|
Conor McGregor is losing his lightweight belt before he’s even returned to the UFC octagon.McGregor won the title in 2016 but has failed to defend the belt in the 17 months since then.Khabib Nurmagomedov and Max Holloway will fight for the vacant lightweight title, McGregor’s old belt, at UFC 223 this weekend.When McGregor returns to UFC later this year, he will likely challenge the winner.
Conor McGregor will definitely fight in UFC this year — just not as a lightweight champion.
This is because UFC president Dana White has, for the first time, officially confirmed that McGregor will be stripped of his belt.
“Conor is coming back this year. 100%, he will fight this year,” White said this week,according to MMA Fighting. He added: “The only person who is losing a belt is Conor… Conor’s losing the belt.”
The Irish striker won the lightweight belt in 2016 when he knocked out former champion Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205, but he has failed to defend the title since then.
Top-ranked lightweight Khabib Nurmagomedov and UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway will now fight for the vacant lightweight belt, McGregor’s former title, at UFC 223 this weekend, according to White.
Max Holloway (left) and Khabib Nurmagomedov (right). (Reuters / Getty Images)
Speaking at a press conference to promote UFC 223, White — standing between Nurmagomedov and Holloway — clarified the lightweight landscape. He said: “When this fight is over… one of these guys will be the champion.”
White has previously said that McGregor is planning to fight in UFC in September — and that his first bout back will be for his old belt, the lightweight title.
Whoever wins Saturday’s showdown between Russian wrestler Nurmagomedov and Hawaiian scrapper Holloway will therefore head straight into a mega fight with McGregor later this year.
For White, a fight between Nurmagomedov and McGregor would be “massive.”
He told TSN: “A fight between Conor McGregor and Khabib, that would be massive. I actually think it’s the biggest fight out there.”
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