Dana White, UFC president, did not come right out and say UFC lightweight star Conor McGregor will be stripped of his title, but he did mention the winner of the UFC 223 bout between interim champion Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov will be “the champion.”
As for stripping Conor McGregor, White said at Friday’s UFC 25th Anniversary Series Press conference at TD Garden in Boston; the UFC will, “see what happens.”
Later Dana White additionally add that the winner of the fight would be the “undisputed” champion. So, things aren’t totally obvious as to what the future holds, but Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov at least know they are not fighting for an interim belt.
“I have no update. The winner of this fight will be the champion.”
"The winner of this fight will be champion." – @DanaWhite on the #UFC223 main event pic.twitter.com/zkcfGMwHk0
— UFC Europe (@UFCEurope) January 19, 2018
Conor McGregor scored the lightweight title against Eddie Alvarez via second-round knockout in November 2016, and since then McGregor never defended the title. And with no plans for his return to the UFC octagon, the UFC slated Ferguson and Nurmagomedov for the Barclays Center card in Brooklyn.
“We’ll see what happens.”
On being asked, if he is frustrated by Mcgregor’s lack of activity in MMA, White said, he wasn’t surprised by it based on his reported $100 million payday against Floyd Mayweather last August, which made it doubtful he would ever return to the octagon.
“I said leading into Mayweather fight, I made it pretty clear, I’ve been in this business for a very long time. When you make an obscene amount of money like that, who knows if they’ll ever come back?” White said. “Right now, with the position we’re in, Conor’s saying, ‘Maybe I’ll come back in August, maybe I’ll come back in September. Well, that’s almost two years. It’s not fair to the rest of the guys in the division. The division has to go on. These guys have been fighting their whole career. Everybody wants to get to that pinnacle and it’s the fair thing to do.
“Listen, I take so much s**t for how much I like Conor McGregor and everything else, but the division has to go on.”
Dana White further said, no whatever will be his decision, UFC cant put the lightweight division in limbo isn’t pleasant to the other elite contenders in the weight class.
Lastly asked, if his lengthy non-activity was hurting his star power, White suggested McGregor was one of the biggest stars in all of the sports, let alone the UFC.
“I think Conor McGregor is not only one of the biggest stars in mixed martial arts, one of the biggest stars in all of sports on earth. So, this fight is ridiculous. And after this fight happens, whenever Conor does decide to come back I think it will be massive.”
Ferguson scored the interim belt via third-round submission to Kevin Lee in October. The win extended Ferguson’s unbeaten streak to 10 consecutive fights. Most recently, Nurmagomedov put a one-sided beatdown on Brazilian striker Edson Barboza at UFC 219 in December.