By: Darrien Starling
The chaotic world of mixed martial arts (MMA) continues to ride the bizarre roller-coaster of it’s fighters personalities. Conor McGregor, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Lightweight Champion, is controlling an entire division from the comfort of his home in Dublin, Ireland. The Irishman hasn’t fought in the UFC since November of 2016, when he defeated Eddie Alvarez to become the first simultaneous two weight world champion in the promotion’s history.
Since that time, the Dubliner has participated in the biggest spectacle in recent history, by crossing over disciplines and competing against Floyd Mayweather in a boxing match. McGregor was rumored to have made 100 million dollars in that fight, therefore, one can speculate that a return to the octagon may be unlikely. However, the trash-talking champion has flexed his muscles by telling the world he will fight again, but has set no timetable for his return.
This situation is unfortunate for Interim Lightweight Champion Tony Ferguson, who has gone through the tough grind of the division and has built an “undisputed” champion resume. On the other hand, undefeated #1 contender Khabib Nurmagomedov is in the same boat as Ferguson. He has an impressive undefeated record and has put on some of the most dominant performances in MMA.
UFC President Dana White recently held a press conference announcing an April 7th bout between Ferguson and Nurmagomedov. The first 5–8 questions were all about McGregor and the Lightweight Championship belt. White avoided most questions, giving vague and misleading answers about if McGregor would be forced to vacate his title. I don’t think we’ve ever seen a situation where the Interim Champion has to defend his title before the actual undisputed champion defends theirs. This really highlights the direction the company is going, they’d rather put on great shows, instead of legitimizing their ranking/belt system.
Considering the financial year they had last year, I guess you can’t blame them because it was one of the worst years in their history as far as Pay-Per-View (PPV) buys are concerned. Watch the press conference below via UFC Youtube Channel:
The fact of the matter is, the UFC hasn’t had a PPV do more than 1 million buys since McGregor’s last fight in 2016. Reportedly, in 2017 the UFC had two events that did between 750k–875k PPV buys domestically, while the rest all fell below 400k. With that being said, the promotion is hoping McGregor finds the motivation to step back into the Octagon at least twice this year for financial purposes alone. The company was just sold for 4.2 billion dollars a little over a year ago, coming off of a year were McGregor set and broke his own PPV and attendance records multiple times. They’ve obviously lost on that investment big time up to this point.
Now we wait to see what the man that calls himself ‘Mystic Mac’ decides to do. White has basically given him to late April to commit to the winner of Ferguson and Nurmagomedov or he’d be force to vacate the belt. The ball has been and is still in Conor “The Notorious” McGregor’s court.