Just weeks after his emphatic victory over Eddie Alvarez, UFC officials have announced that two weight World Champion, Conor McGregor, will be forced to relinquish his Featherweight belt.
McGregor, the first man in history to hold two UFC titles at the the same time, ripped the 155Ib belt from Alvarez’s grasp with a punishing second round KO in Madison Square garden earlier this month. But with the brash Irishman set to take time out of the sport for the arrival of his first child, the progression of the division has been put into contention, forcing him to vacate his belt.
With all indications seeming to show that McGregor intended to defend both belts – added to his ever growing popularity, and influence within the company – it meant the news certainly came as a shock to many people in the sport. Especially as McGregor previously went on record saying they would need an army to take one of the belts from him. But in the end it took much less than that. In the end, President Dana White and the UFC got what they wanted. Once again reminding us that no man is more powerful than the company.
So could the beginnings of a possible power struggle between the UFC and its biggest star be brewing? Its not the first time we’ve seen a standoff between the two parties, as shown by the events at UFC 200, where Conor was removed from the card as a consequence for not showing up to a press conference.
What does all this mean to the future of the Featherweight Division? In a statement released on Saturday evening, the UFC said, “McGregor’s decision to vacate the featherweight title means interim 145lb champion Jose Aldo has now been promoted to the undisputed belt holder. It also means the winner of the upcoming fight between Max Holloway and Anthony Pettis, which headlines UFC 206 on December 10, will be for the interim 145lb belt.” The statement went on “The winner of the five-round bout, which will be held at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, will face Aldo in 2017 for the unified belt.”
This will undoubtedly bring some much needed excitement into a static division, that lost much of its momentum when Mcgregor won the belt last year. Though He will now leave the division having never defended the title he won against Aldo at UFC 194, in only 13 seconds.
As for McGregor, he will take a small break from the sport, enjoying time with his family, and planning his first lightweight defence. Either way it seems his biggest fight no longer lies inside the ring, but between him and the UFC itself.
By Lewis Smith.