UFC 223 is going down on April 7th from Brooklyn New York and promises to be the biggest UFC event in quite a while. And while Conor McGregor is still in Ireland with no signs he’ll show up for the event, a lot of headlines are still swirling around him because the Brooklyn show marks the end of his lightweight title reign.
“The only person here who is losing a belt is Conor. Conor’s losing the belt, these two are fighting for the belt,” UFC president Dana White said at a pre-event press conference, referring to main event fighters Khabib Nurmagomedov and Max Holloway. “Conor is coming back this year 100 percent. He will fight this year. We’ll see how this thing plays out and we’ll go from there.”
This was the first time White had specifically admitted McGregor was getting stripped. Previous explanations for the UFC 223 title fight involved a Schrödinger’s title situation where it was both Conor’s belt and up for grabs in New York. Only once the fight between Khabib and Max is over will the lightweight belt’s new state become reality.
McGregor reacted to White’s comments on Twitter with anger.
But is this real anger or just more of Conor McGregor’s theatrical bluster? “You’ll do nothing” is about as close to a catchphrase for McGregor as you’re going to get outside of pro wrestling. The guy throws it around like candy, and while adding the c-word into the mix certainly adds venom, it’s not like he hasn’t had months to mentally prepare himself for the UFC stripping him.
That being said, this is the second belt the UFC has forced him to drop. They waited just under a month after he had made history by being the first man to hold two UFC belts at the same time before stripping him of his featherweight title. This time it’s his lightweight belt, and with Nurmagomedov now facing the featherweight champ last minute he may feel extra insulted that they’re taking his title to prop up that fight for PPV sales purposes.
It’s hard to get a read on what’s real and what’s not with McGregor these days because the majority of his communications have been via social media beefs rather than in a sit down interview where he tends to play things more legit. But if McGregor sticks to his guns and doesn’t show up at UFC 223, it says a certain amount about the current relationship between him and the UFC. Whether it’s business or personal hardly matters if the end result is a complete lack of the UFC’s biggest star from their events.