With his fight against lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205, Conor McGregor is on the verge of making UFC history. The list of fighters that have become champions in multiple weight classes is short already. But if he wins in November, he’ll become the first person in the promotion’s history to hold two belts at the same time.
That’s a pretty big deal, especially for someone trying to create an enduring legacy as one of the best fighters ever. So why does the UFC seem so hellbent on keeping Conor McGregor from doing it? If it were up to them, McGregor would be fighting Jose Aldo again. If it were up to them, he’d have already given up the 145 pound belt. And UFC president Dana White has said repeatedly that Conor can’t keep both the 145 and 155 pound belts if he wins.
McGregor has been pretty brash and cocky in the past, saying the UFC will need an army to take the belts away from him. But in a recent phone interview with Sports Illustrated, he put forward a much more reasonable compromise.
“Let me see the pictures on publications with a belt on each shoulder first. Let me go onto the side of that Octagon and raise two world titles, what’s never been done before, before talking about stripping me. Let me get the f**king things, let me do it. I’ll always listen to the correct business move and I’ll always do what is the correct move but let me do it and let me go back and look at some pictures of me with two belts and let me embrace it for half a day.”
“It’s the media that’s making this. Let me look at the historic images we’re going to get on this night, me with these two belts. That’s what everyone should be excited about, this is history. Everyone wants to see you do good, but not better than them. That’s what’s happening here. I’m just looking forward to raising the belts, and doing what has not been done before. Don’t be trying to take away the historic moment before I’ve even experienced it.”
Critics say this has all taken too much time, and McGregor is holding up the featherweight division. But if then-lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos hadn’t pulled out of his fight with Conor McGregor back in March, this whole endeavor would have been over long ago. As for the featherweights, McGregor knocked Jose Aldo out in 13 seconds last December. It hasn’t even been a year since their last fight. Aldo won an interim belt in July, three months ago. His campmate Renan Barao was interim champion for over a year.
When you take that into consideration alongside the record breaking pay-per-view numbers McGregor has given the UFC, it seems silly to rain so torrentially all over his dreams to become a simultaneous two division champion. Hopefully the UFC and Dana White will focus less on stripping him of a belt now that Conor has effectively agreed to let one go if he wins.