Conor McGregor is perhaps the most polarizing figure in mixed martial arts. Although he still assumes the title of UFC lightweight champion, the mercurial Irishman has never defended the title since capturing it from Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205 in November 2016. According to esteemed SBG Ireland coach, John Kavanagh, the title is simply up to fans to decide
Try telling that to UFC interim lightweight champion Tony Ferguson and unbeaten Russian challenger Khabib Nurmagomedov, who face off for an as yet defined version of the 155-pound strap at UFC 223 in April.
Ferguson, who has been riding a 10 fight winning streak into the fight against the unbeaten Nurmagomedov, was expected to be crowned as the undisputed king of the lightweight division in the absence of McGregor. The UFC, seemingly unwilling to strip their prized asset of his title, have bought themselves some time until arguably the biggest scheduled fight of the year to make a decision. That may be, somewhat understandably, wise from the perspective of the promotion given the fact that the two have seen three planned fights canceled between them.
McGregor’s coach, John Kavanagh, believes that his fighter’s championship status is only defined by the fans of the UFC:
“[If Conor McGregor is still champion] I think that’s a question for fans and forums to decide. That’s the fun of the game; is it for the title, is it not? I think the reality is, no matter what anyone says, that the winner of that contest will not feel quite there until they beat Conor. That’s just a given.
“They won’t feel quite there financially, or they won’t answer the questions that they have for themselves or fans have.
“Like I said, I’m 41 so I’m not going to get too bogged down in titles and stuff like that but I think it’s a fun thing for fans to go back and forth with. That’s part of the fun, you buy the pay-per-view and you argue with your buddies.”