McGregor May Not Plan to Vacate Belt
On Saturday, Conor McGregor will compete for the lightweight title against Eddie Alvarez, with hopes of becoming the first fighter to hold belts in two divisions.
That achievement does come with a bit of an asterisk: McGregor won the featherweight title in December of 2015 and has yet to defend it. He has, however, fought twice outside of the division, and been vague about whether he ever planned on making the cut to 145 lbs. again. Because of McGregor’s star power and the revenue he generates for the UFC, the promotion has allowed his some leeway here, and deservedly so. But if McGregor were to win the lightweight belt and not give up one of the two titles, he would now be holding up two divisions rather than one.
UFC President Dana White has said that McGregor will indeed give up one of the titles if he beats Alvarez at UFC 205, but McGregor has said otherwise.
"You’re going to need an army to take those belts off me," he said at the UFC 205 press conference.
On Monday’s edition of the MMA Hour, McGregor’s coach John Kavanagh was asked whether or not McGregor has spoken privately about the ‘vacating belts’ issue.
"I have not heard a hint of him giving up the belt," Kavanagh said. "He has never said to me, ‘Oh, I’m gonna hand back the 45 or the 55.’ Any time I’ve heard him talk about it, he’s been very clear, very loud, very vocal about saying he fights very often. Look how close he is from fighting, literally just a couple of months ago. It’s not unusual for a champion to defend the belt once a year or twice a year."
McGregor attempted to become a two-division champion earlier this year, when he prepared to challenge then-lightweight champ Rafael Dos Anjos for the 155-lb. title. Dos Anjos withdrew from the bout, paving the way for two non-title fights against Nate Diaz.
Some have speculated whether McGregor could even make the 145 lb. limit anymore. The weight cut was the most difficult part of his title run at featherweight, and he appeared gaunt every time he hit the scales at 145.
Kavanagh says that McGregor’s new relationship with nutritionalist George Lockhart will make a potential cut to featherweight easier than it ever had been.
"[Featherweight] for him now I believe would be easier than what 45 for him was when we did it for let’s say his first two or three fights in the UFC," Kavanagh said.
"Now because of the type of people we have involved, I don’t see the physical problem with it," Kavanagh said. "I won’t lie and say it’s not easier for 55.
"If a 45 fight came along and he was like, ‘I have to do this,’ I’d be behind it."