It wasn’t long ago when the UFC wasn’t in favor of seeing the promotion’s champs move up in weight, and retain their belt, but as a result of the Conor McGregor phenomenon, that’s all history.
Several weeks back, the UFC raised eyebrows throughout the MMA industry by announcing that McGregor was going to challenge lightweight champ Rafael dos Anjos on March 5th. The bout was presenting McGregor the opportunity to become the first, ruling, multi-division champ in UFC history.
Even before RDA went down with a broken foot, and Nate Diaz was brought in as a replacement, there was a ton of talk about McGregor moving up to 170. Not just fighting at welterweight, but fighting the champ Robbie Lawler this summer…
While it remains to be seen what goes down this Saturday at UFC 196, it’s clear that White is keeping all of their options open. While discussing McGregor’s future recently, the UFC President said this (quote via MMA Junkie.com):
“I’m open to whatever he’s considering doing. If he wants to fight at 170 and he wants to fight Robbie Lawler, Conor is tough to deny these days,” White said. “Nobody’s ever done this – 145 pounds going to 170 – and it’s one of those things when you talk about these guys, and the money’s in the bank and all the things are going on, they have all this opportunity. Conor really does step up and fight anybody, anywhere, anytime. It’s impressive, it’s fun and this is what makes you love the fight business. ”
When you consider all the hype surrounding McGregor, and all the cash the UFC is making as a result of his run, none of this should come as a surprise. As long as the Irish star keeps winning, chances are the promotion will agree to pretty much anything he wants to do. It will be interesting to see, however, how other top tier fighters react, particularly if the 145 title picture comes to a screeching halt.
If McGregor does defeat Diaz on Saturday, and then fights at welterweight this summer, the featherweight title won’t be up for grabs until fall or winter.
UFC 196 will be hosted by the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.