The aftermath of UFC 205: Alvarez vs. McGregor has infused a breath of fresh air into the sport. The lull between pay per view events felt like a needed break, but now, the business in various division’s has been convoluted, courtesy of one man: Conor McGregor.
For starters, the featherweight and lightweight classes are going to be frozen. He won the 145 lbs strap last December and has yet to defend the title. That’s nearly twelve months since an official title fight has taken place at featherweight.
He just won the lightweight title and announced he will be taking some time off to enjoy his two titles, have a baby with his long time girlfriend and then decide when (and perhaps if) he will return.
The when may not likely happen until March, at the earliest and perhaps the summer of 2017 at the latest. “The Notorious” will take some well deserved time off, but it’s the list of potential opponents who will suffer the most from his absence.
First off there’s Jose Aldo Jr., the interim champ at 145 lbs, who has been clamoring for a rematch with McGregor. For now, the Brazilian will have to not only wait for his chance to fight Conor, but react to what the UFC will do with the title picture. If they strip McGregor and remove the interim label from Aldo’s title, you just know the Irishman will have an absolute field day with that one.
And should the UFC make Jose the official champ, Max Holloway seems to be the consensus challenger to the featherweight crown. Problem is, Jose isn’t interested in him … he only wants McGregor.
Frankie Edgar is not really going to be an option for Aldo, as he defeated him in his last bout, and is already 2-0 vs. the New Jersey native. To wit, with Conor putting himself on the sidelines, Frankie has hinted that he will pay close attention to 135 lbs champ, Dominick Cruz, who is set to take on Cody Garbrandt at UFC 207.
Then there’s the bottleneck between lightweights Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov. Both gentlemen can make the argument they deserve to be Conor’s first title defence. Tony earned it with his victory over former champ Rafael Dos Anjos will Khabib solidified his title shot by remaining undefeated in a dominating performance on Saturday night vs. Michael Johnson.
When it comes Ferguson, it appears Conor doesn’t even want to hear that name. As for Nurmagomedov, who called McGregor “a chicken”, the champ stated the Dagestani fighter has much more to prove before getting a title shot.
There’s been speculation (i.e. Conor planting the seed) that McGregor would like to fight Tyron Woodley, a long shot of a bout that would see the Irishman attempt to fight and win a third title in just as many divisions. Everybody in both camps would likely be down for it (and the payday) but there’s a fat chance that it will happen.
Woodley will likely have to focus on rematching the man he fought to a majority with on Saturday night: Stephen Thompson. Add to the fact Demian Maia is also the other man who deserves the title shot, and the UFC has a third division that needs to have some sifting and filtering in serious mandatory fashion.
And how about the trilogy bout between McGregor and Nate Diaz? That’s just another bout that can easily be put together, at 155 lbs, that would be a cash cow for the organization. Heck, even Diaz was ready to reintroduce the option to his rival, as he crashed Conor’s victory after-party at a New York club early Saturday morning.
While McGregor has numerous options inside the octagon, it’s perhaps the battle he has started outside of the cage that will soon be making larger headlines.
He, along with a few other big names, are beginning to challenge the new UFC ownership with serious demands the organization will have to seriously navigate. Conor knows just how much revenue he generates for the organization, yet his pay is a tiny percentage compared to the overall piece of the revenue pie.
This was something that was predicted quite some time ago by yours truly and few others in the media and MMA industry. And Conor isn’t the only big name looking to ask (and try and take) a bigger piece of the pie. The Irishman wants a piece of UFC ownership. Others want more than what they state is a small percentage of payment compared to the 50/50 revenue split other athletes from other sports are receiving.
Stay tuned to Fightful.com in the coming days, for more big news surrounding this developing story.