Cleat Geeks

It’s Time to Put McGregor in the Rearview Mirror

Image result for Tony Ferguson defeated Kevin LeeAfter UFC 216, it seemed as if all would finally get back to normal when Tony Ferguson defeated Kevin Lee to become the interim lightweight Champion. Dana White all but confirmed that Ferguson had stamped his ticket for a mega-fight with the superstar, Conor McGregor, to unify the lightweight belts. Yet here we are two months later and there’s still no indication who, if anyone at all, McGregor will fight next. Quite frankly, it’s annoying that he doesn’t seem to have any interest in defending the belt he was gifted a title shot at and that his name is brought up anytime there are fights on live TV. He’s irrelevant to the UFC world right now. After Georges St. Pierre beat Michael Bisping to claim the middleweight Championship, fans clamored for a super fight between him and McGregor. This past weekend at UFC 218, Max Holloway finished Jose Aldo in the third round of a featherweight title fight for the second time this year. Once again, McGregor found his way into discussions of a fight with the winner of a PPV, as he has for the last 3. It’s time for the UFC to put Conor McGregor in the rearview mirror. He’s spent enough time holding up divisions with fighters who haven’t hit their ceiling, preventing them from becoming bigger stars. GSP doesn’t need a super-fight with McGregor to get or stay relevant, he was the PPV king before McGregor came along. Max Holloway and Tony Ferguson are both stars in the making, but they’re both wasting their time campaigning for a fight with him. The UFC has made it clear that Conor McGregor calls his own shots, and if he doesn’t want to fight someone, it’s not going to happen. Tony Ferguson is an exciting fighter and the best lightweight on the planet right now. He deserves to be crowned the undisputed Champion and he’s got unfinished business with Khabib Nurmagomedov. If Khabib gets past Edson Barboza at UFC 219 later this month, that’s the fight to make in the 155-pound division.

The Conor McGregor that didn’t seem to forget where he came from is all but a forgotten memory.

Conor McGregor seems to be in the news for all the wrong reasons lately. If you’re not familiar with Conor McGregor’s rise to stardom, I’d encourage you to watch some interviews and listen to him speak humbly about his struggles prior to the UFC. He’s made claims of being on welfare in Ireland, fighting at local shows and using government assistance just to make ends meet. You won’t hear him talk like that anymore because, quite frankly, money and fame changes people and he is no exception. Unfortunately for fans of the UFC, the Conor McGregor that wept with emotion when he captured the interim featherweight title from Chad Mendes at UFC 189 is no more. The Conor McGregor that didn’t seem to forget where he came from is all but a forgotten memory. The UFC allowed him to breach his contract with them to step into the boxing ring with the greatest boxer of our generation and he doesn’t seem ready to return the favor. Questions have surrounded him since that defeat that left him filthy rich. He doesn’t seem motivated or in a hurry to get back into the Octagon to defend the belt he’s left on the shelf since November of last year. Meanwhile, Tony Ferguson, the newly-crowned lightweight interim Champion, awaits confirmation on his next fight. If I were a betting man, I would bet the house that his next bout won’t be against McGregor in the UFC. Dana White said at this past weekend’s UFC 218 scrum that Image result for georges st. pierre middleweight championhe’s not even sure if McGregor ever fights again.

So too is the case for Georges St. Pierre as the newly-crowned middleweight Champion. He has been mum about his fighting future since capturing the middleweight title from Michael Bisping last month at UFC 217. It should be noted that Dana White, at the same UFC 218 media scrum, ripped into the Champion, saying that he won’t be happy if he doesn’t defend the belt. Dana said part of the agreement for him coming back was to defend the belt if he won it. His relationship with GSP hasn’t always been the best and it seems there is still a breakdown in communication somewhere. It may seem a little premature to be calling for a Champion to defend his belt after only 4 weeks while McGregor has held onto his for a year without Dana calling him out publicly. Unfortunately for everyone else, Dana White knows that McGregor is his cash cow and realizes he isn’t in control. The UFC has a bad reputation for playing favorites, although you can’t necessarily blame them for doing so. However, Champions should be treated equally, and a world title needs to be defended regularly.

There is no official rule in place for a timetable to defend your title, it seems to be at the discretion of the UFC, who plays judge, jury and executioner. Dominick Cruz went 609 days on the shelf before vacating his bantamweight Championship from 2012-2014. He was scheduled to fight longtime rival Uriajh Faber for a third time at UFC 148 for the bantamweight title before pulling out with an injury. Renan Barao stepped in on short notice and defeated Faber before defending the interim title twice. Barao was then scheduled to fight Cruz for the undisputed bantamweight title but Cruz again had to pull out, forcing the UFC to declare Barao the undisputed Champion. By contrast, in 2004 Frank Mir won the UFC heavyweight title when he defeated Tim Sylvia. The following October he was scheduled to fight Andrei Arlovski but was still healing from injuries sustained in a motorcycle crash. The UFC stripped him of his title after 419 days of inactivity. Earlier this year at UFC 208, Germaine de Randamie defeated former bantamweight Champion Holly Holm for the inaugural featherweight Championship. Her first title defense was supposed to be against superstar Cris “Cyborg,” but rumors swirled that she was unwilling to fight her based on her previous banned substance positive tests. The UFC made the decision to strip her of the title after only 128 days of inactivity.Image result for germaine de randamie ufc

128, 419 and 609 days of inactivity caused three Champions to be stripped of their titles. Those numbers represent a very large range and are perplexing to someone from the outside looking in. A male Champion went 609 days without being stripped of his title while a female only went 128 days without being stripped. In any other industry, that would get you a lawsuit. Not in the UFC apparently. Conor McGregor went 189 days before he was stripped of his featherweight title, this while he currently held a title in another division in which he’d never competed. As of this day, it’s been 391 days since McGregor won the UFC lightweight title and not only has there been no talk of a title defense, UFC president Dana White doesn’t sound confident that he will ever fight again.

Conor McGregor gets preferential treatment based on who he is and how much revenue he generates for the company while people like Germaine de Randamie don’t have much say in anything at all.

I don’t particularly like writing opinion-based articles and that’s why I’ve done the research to present facts and figures. The bottom line is that the UFC, as I eluded to earlier, plays the part of judge, jury and executioner. Conor McGregor gets preferential treatment based on who he is and how much revenue he generates for the company while people like Germaine de Randamie don’t have much say in anything at all. Life isn’t always fair but punishments should be the same across the board, no matter who you are. The UFC got big long before McGregor came into the picture and he wasn’t around at its peak at the beginning of the decade so they will survive without him.

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