Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Sonnen: Volkanovski Validated McGregor’s Return To The Title Picture

Chael Sonnen has suggested reigning UFC Featherweight Champion Alexander Volkanovski has validated an immediate return to title contention for Conor McGregor.

McGregor hasn’t been in action since suffering a brutal leg break at UFC 264 last July. The injury, which resulted in a TKO loss, marked his second defeat to Dustin Poirier in 2021 and his third setback in four appearances.

Despite that, as the Irishman edges closer towards a much-anticipated return, it’s appearing more and more likely that we may see the former two-division UFC champion competing for gold in his first fight back.

That discussion picked up when UFC President Dana White slammed those criticizing the idea of a McGregor title shot and announced the promotion’s intention to re-book the Islam Makhachev vs. Beneil Dariush bout. According to many, including Joe Rogan, that announcement has left the door open for the Dublin native to return to the championship picture later this year.

In a recent exclusive interview with MMA News, 145-pound king Volkanovski discussed McGregor, labeling him a dream opponent, not only due to his stardom and the money involved but for his quest to best every former featherweight champ.

“Obviously, Conor’s always gonna get his name out there,” Volkanovski said. “You’ve gotta remember, he was a featherweight, he was a champion of my division. So, I’ve taken out the featherweight champs, so to take out, the only one left, isn’t he? Yeah, it’s just Conor. There was me, (José) Aldo, Max (Holloway), and Conor. So it makes a lot of sense. Obviously, it would be a dream. And then I’ve taken out all the other champs in my division. So that would be incredible.”

While at first glance, the remarks perhaps appear harmless and to simply be a casual comment on a dream matchup, former middleweight and light heavyweight UFC title challenger Chael Sonnen has suggested Volkanovski’s words could mean a lot in the context of McGregor’s return.

Sonnen Suggests Volkanovski Co-Signed A McGregor Title Shot

In a video uploaded to his YouTube channel, Sonnen discussed Volkanovski’s comments. He claimed that the Australian had, whether by intention or not, provided validation for a potential McGregor title shot.

“There is an ongoing conversation of should Conor McGregor be able to return off of a loss, off of a previous loss, off of an injury, and fight for a world championship,” said Sonnen. “There seems to be a very meaningful discussion, which got supported when Islam Makhachev got re-booked against Dariush.

“Many people are pushing back on it, saying Conor should not be able to come off a loss into a world championship fight… It doesn’t sound like Volkanovski agrees with you,” noted Sonnen. “Volkanovski, whether he meant to or not, just gave validation, as a sitting champion of the world, that Conor McGregor can, in fact, come right back into a world title fight.”

Conor McGregor
Conor McGregor (Photo: Sportsfile)

Sonnen did, however, acknowledge Volkanovski’s words came from his own desire to meet McGregor, which, at featherweight at least, is unlikely. Nevertheless, the 44-year-old claimed that the Aussie’s quote, given his place at the champions’ table, means something, regardless of which title conversation McGregor is in.

“Volkanovski, of course, was personalizing and talking about him(self), and I don’t think Conor’s gonna be making featherweight any time soon,” admitted Sonnen. “But set that aside, you now have a world champion, whether he intended to or not, that just co-signed the statement that Conor McGregor qualifies for a world title fight upon his return. One world champion, one sitting and reigning world champion, has got to speak for how many of us? What’s his opinion worth? He’s got skin in the game. He’s got credibility.

“You’ve now got somebody with a seat at the head table, who is saying that Conor should qualify based on his laurels, based on the success that he has had before. I don’t disagree with that, I don’t disagree with that at all,” Sonnen concluded.

Do you agree with Chael Sonnen? Did Alexander Volkanovski’s comments validate a title shot for Conor McGregor?

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