After his stunning knockout of Brazilian ace Jose Aldo to claim the UFC featherweight crown, Conor McGregor revealed his larger aspirations in the UFC by hinting that he wanted to try for another belt, specifically the lightweight championship at 155 pounds. He soon got his wish, a scheduled bout between reigning lightweight title holder Rafael dos Anjos at UFC 196. The brash Irishman was seeking to become the first man to hold two belts simultaneously.
However, Dos Anjos pulled out of the fight this week with a foot injury. Rather than a setback to McGregor’s plans, the replacement for Dos Anjos, the vocal Nate Diaz, proved to be an indicator of McGregor’s ambitious goals.
When asked about what weight class he preferred at the UFC Fight Presser today, which is an important question for McGregor since he will fight Diaz at welterweight, he said he wants to create his “own division” in the UFC. Weight classes for McGregor are secondary to fighting. He envisions a UFC where he moves freely between weight classes to fight because the bottom line is seeing who the better fighter is. He will fight anyone who has the courage to face him.
With Diaz replacing Dos Anjos but at welterweight, McGregor shifts to a non-title fight against a relative non-contender (at least for the moment.) For most fighters, a sudden change in weight and styles would be problematic and undesirable. Diaz is taller than McGregor and holds a reach advantage while boasting solid striking ability. True to form, McGregor shows he simply does not care, much the same when Chad Mendes stepped in for Jose Aldo. Last summer when informed of the news of Mendes replacing Aldo he allegedly said, “I don’t care, they’re all the same.” Today at the Presser he said he does not train for certain styles and opponents, he just “trains.”
McGregor wants to prove that he is the superior fighter. Period. Not the best featherweight, or lightweight, or be the first man to hold two belts. He wants to be the best fighter in the world, no questions asked. Any weight, anytime, anywhere. A true pound-for-pound king.
McGregor said so himself in the not so distant past when the UFC ventured to Dublin, “We’re not just here to take part—we’re here to take over.”