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Conor McGregor
(Gary A. Vasquez/USA Today Sports)

Conor McGregor should not fight for the UFC lightweight belt next

Conor McGregor
(Gary A. Vasquez/USA Today Sports)

Conor McGregor should not fight for the UFC lightweight belt next

Conor McGregor is still the face of the UFC and since UFC President Dana White announced that Islam Makhachev may have to face Beneil Dariush before getting a shot at the UFC lightweight belt, the discussion of McGregor getting the next title shot is heating up. However, that should not be the case by any means.

The lightweight belt will be up for grabs on May 7 when Charles Oliveira looks to defend his belt against Justin Gaethje. The winner was thought to be facing the No. 3 ranked Makhachev, who most recently won against Bobby Green, a replacement for Dariush. Two weeks later though the Russian turned down a short-notice fight with No. 6 ranked Rafael dos Anjos and White commented that he will now have to fight Dariush before fighting for the belt. 

If that is the case then it will likely be someone else fighting the winner of Oliveira and Gaethje and the name rising to the top of the list of contenders is Conor McGregor. This would be outrageous as McGregor is 1-3 in the lightweight division with his only win coming in his first fight against Eddie Alvarez in 2016. In that fight, McGregor became the first UFC fighter to hold two belts at the same time. Since then McGregor has lost three straight fights as a lightweight with a win at welterweight in between.

It would be very hard to give McGregor a title shot with that recent record while Makhachev is on a 10 fight win streak and Dariush has won seven straight. It makes it even harder for a McGregor title shot to make sense since he is currently ranked ninth. I would give the title shot to dos Anjos before McGregor at the moment.

There is a single reason that McGregor is even being considered to fight for the belt in his return from injury and that is for the money that comes with any McGregor fight. The top seven UFC pay-per-views across the promotion’s 29-year existence have included McGregor and in 2021 McGregor’s two fights with Dustin Poirier had over 1.5 million PPV purchases and sat one and two on the year.

In his most recent fights with “The Diamond”, McGregor lost twice in a row to Poirier. In both fights, Poirier dominated the “Notorious” and won by TKO. What happened to McGregor in the second fight is another reason that his next fight should absolutely not be for the belt. With a few seconds left in the first round, McGregor took a step backward and folded over on his left leg after breaking his tibia. 

Recovering from an injury of that magnitude is not easy to do, but McGregor seems determined to come back stronger than ever and fight for the belt. In a recent Tweet, McGregor stated that he is “Really pumped for my next fight title fight!” That is implying that there may be another title shot in the near future for McGregor.

One more thing to consider is who the champion is when McGregor fully recovers. White mentioned that who the champion is could also determine if McGregor is to return to a title fight. If Oliveira remains the champion after UFC 274 then I could see him fighting McGregor as he made it known that he wants to fight the former featherweight and lightweight champion since Oliveira would be guaranteed big money. On the other hand, I feel that Gaethje has too much respect for the sport of MMA to allow McGregor to skip the line and fight for the belt next even though it would be a nice payday for the Arizona native.

While viewers would probably not complain about McGregor fighting for the belt for the first time since losing to Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 229 in 2018, there are other fights that McGregor should have before moving toward a title shot. The fights that I would love to see McGregor in are a trilogy fight between him and Nate Diaz, a move back up to welterweight to fight Jorge Masvidal, or a fight with No. 7 ranked Tony Ferguson. All three of these fights would put McGregor up against a tough opponent and would be meaningful for the fighters and fans alike.

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