Over the holiday weekend, Daniel Cormier suffered an injury and was forced out of the UFC 206 main event against Anthony Johnson. The UFC scrambled and announced that Conor McGregor “relinquished” his UFC featherweight and subsequently pushing the Max Holloway vs. Anthony Pettis fight to a main event for the interim UFC featherweight title while elevating Jose Aldo to full featherweight champion.
In boxing an interim title is created when the champion of a particular weight division is unable to compete for medical, legal or any other reason outside of his/her control. The rationale carried over to the UFC and has been utilized on several occasions when a champion hadn’t defended his title for up to a year.
But this recent announcement takes the rules and casts them to the wayside.
Why is it so ridiculous?
For one, it was completely reactionary.
Let’s be clear, the only reason this is happening is because UFC 206 lost it’s main event. It’s not because of anything else. It’s because the light heavyweight champion cannot defend his title due to injury. It sounds ridiculous because it is ridiculous. Had Daniel Cormier vs. Anthony Johnson still been on, this interim title fight would have never needed to happen. It’s not like Conor McGregor had already announced that his next fight would be in the lightweight division and the UFC made these plans because of that. Instead, they decided to slap an interim title on a fight to make UFC 206 more appealing.
Only, it didn’t.
Anyone who loves MMA knows that Pettis vs. Holloway is an excellent fight. To think that making it an interim title fight will sell more pay per views is an insult for fight fans across the globe. And judging by the feedback on social media, nobody will consider the winner an interim champion. It’s like Pettis and Holloway are fighting for the interim, interim title because Aldo’s the interim title and McGregor is the champion who won this title less than 12 months ago.
It’s also an insult to the featherweight division by not giving this announcement any type of weight. It just kind of came and went on the UFC Fight Night telecast with Jon Anik making the announcement. Wouldn’t it have been wise to have a conference call with all of the parties involved and explain why this is happening? But, surely, Conor McGregor would have had none of that. Which leads us to the other reason why it was ridiculous.
The UFC made McGregor the victim.
The UFC is well within their rights to strip McGregor of the title if he has no intentions on defending it. They are already in a unique position of having a two-division champion and could have made sense out of it if they considered this beforehand. But to do it because you’re worried about the UFC 206 pay per view is pathetic. And with McGregor saying absolutely nothing on social media, it only empowers him further.
Can you imagine the ether that McGregor will fire off once he does decide to break his silence? He never said he wasn’t defending the title and the UFC took that away from him. After all, he knocked out the new champion in 13 seconds just last year and has a victory over one of the challengers for the interim title. The other guy just got here. Mystic Mac has a legit argument and will surely have the fans on his side.
More importantly, how bad does the featherweight division look now? The biggest draw in the UFC has been ripped out of the division because of an injury to the light heavyweight champion. And with a division only being as strong as it’s champion, how does that title look being fitted around the waist of a guy who was crushed in 13 seconds?
Aldo can’t be happy about this, either. His best bet is to vacate the belt and climb through the lightweight ranks. It’s not like he didn’t consider it before. Might as well do it now or face the ridicule of being a paper champion. Meanwhile, Pettis and Holloway should actually fight for the full title at UFC 206 with the winner calling out McGregor, not Aldo.
Conor McGregor is the man and the only person in the featherweight division to beat him is the UFC.
That’s downright ridiculous.