Sitting at the post-fight press conference to UFC 196, having just suffered his first Octagon loss at the hands of Nate Diaz, McGregor insisted that he would move back down to featherweight to defend his title against either Jose Aldo or Frankie Edgar. Yet, just a couple of weeks later, it was announced that he would remain at welterweight for a rubber match with Diaz.
Even throughout his public back and forth with Dana White that saw him briefly retire before being pulled from the UFC 200 card, McGregor insisted that the featherweight division was his next port of call after a rematch with Diaz.
Defending his featherweight crown has been one of the most talked about issues with ‘The Notorious’ and a lot of the division’s top contenders have criticized him for jumping up, initially to lightweight, and now to welterweight.
When Dana White claimed that a meeting with Robbie Lawler could be extended in the direction of McGregor if he had beaten Diaz, the featherweight division was up in arms considering that the man that they all wanted to face was being matched in other divisions.
For that reason, even before the rematch has taken place, it was always going to be an option for McGregor to simply not return to featherweight immediately following his August 20 main event at the T-Mobile Arena. The fact that he is such a draw allows him to look at different avenues that aren’t available to other fighters under the banner.
According to Eddie Alvarez, who everyone thought was set to face Khabib Nurmagomedov after UFC announced Rafael Dos Anjos versus Tony Ferguson, he has been told to wait for the winner of the UFC 202 headline clash.
Given that McGregor is coming off a loss in his first test in the Octagon outside of featherweight, even if he wins the rematch, there will be plenty who criticize UFC allowing him to fight for another division’s gold before he defends his own. Especially considering that he has never contested a bout a lightweight for the promotion.
Alvarez Waiting on Winner of UFC 202 Main Event
In an interview with FloCombat.com, Eddie Alvarez told Jim Edwards that he has not heard anything about the potential title fight with ‘The Eagle’, but he knows that he has to wait until the UFC 202 main event plays out before a decision will be made.
“I haven’t had any calls from the UFC about fighting Khabib yet,” Alvarez said. “Nope, not yet but we will have to see. The idea is we are going to sit down and talk with the UFC.
“I believe we have to wait until August 20th to see what the outcome of that fight is (McGregor vs Diaz) and then we can make some plans. Until then, we are just waiting about.”
Alvarez also claimed that an ideal date for a meeting between him and either McGregor or Diaz would come at UFC 205 at Madison Square Garden.
“I want November 12, UFC 205, Madison Square Garden, and me versus the winner of Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz,” Alvarez said. “That, for me, is the end of a perfect year. I want to fight on the East Coast so all my Philly fans can make it. That would be perfect.”
“Start Spreading the News...”
Alvarez makes a good point with regard to the East Coast. There were reports after his title capture over Dos Anjos that UFC were looking to put on his first title defense in Philadelphia, but his home support would definitely make the visit to New York given the historic resonance of the event at MSG.
Should McGregor have his hand raised on August 20, it would make sense for the promotion to match him for the New York event. Given the roots that the Irish have with the city, and the abundant Irish Diaspora that live in ‘The Big Apple’, the Dubliner would be a massive hit at the event. To add to that, as Irish fans have grown tired of making the minimum of two flights to get to Vegas, the Green Army would welcome the one-stop trip to New York with open arms.
Similarly, Diaz would be able to bring in the West Coast vs East Coast backdrop to the event. With his roots in Stockton being a source of pride for both him and his brother throughout their MMA careers, UFC could capitalize on pitting representatives from East and West against each other in the lead up to the contest.
The payday that will come along with the main event will appeal to both McGregor and Diaz, and given their popularity, you could nearly guarantee that they will get top billing on the November card if their services are required.
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