With just over two painstaking months left until his highly anticipated (and rescheduled) featherweight championship tilt against Jose Aldo at December 12’s UFC 194, it seems as if interim champ Conor McGregor has shifted his focus to the division above him, making it seem a foregone conclusion that the “Notorious” will eventually make his way up to 155 pounds to take on the long list of high-level competitors.
McGregor called out many of the division’s top stars, including champion Rafael dos Anjos and title challenger Donald Cerrone, at September’s “GO BIG” press event, and now he’s got his sights set on former champion Anthony “Showtime” Pettis. The fan favorite has had a rough 2015 after losing his belt to dos Anjos in a one-sided affair at UFC 185 and injuring his elbow training wrestling, requiring surgery.
“Showtime” will return to the cage versus Eddie Alvarez at January 17’s UFC Fight Night 81 from Boston, Massachusetts, which will air on FOX Sports 1. He appeared at a fan Q&A at last weekend’s (Sat., October 3, 2015) UFC 192 from Houston, Pettis had a few barbs for McGregor.
And not surprisingly, the “Notorious” had a fast and stinging reply. Speaking during this week’s The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani, he suggested that Pettis, who has earned lucrative sponsorship deals with Reebok and Wheaties, doesn’t bring in the numbers that his rep might suggest. The Irish slugger is in the game to garner big ratings and make money, not get credit from his peers:
“As far as I’m concerned, he’s back on the Fight Pass events. He’s lower now. I don’t care,” McGregor said. “Like I said before, I’m not in this game for credit. It’s cash I’m here for, at this level. I am after the numbers. They’ll never give me the credit I deserve, but I do not seek credit from them. I seek cash from them.”
After Pettis said that the interim champ was “doing his thing” but hadn’t “beat no one yet,” McGregor not surprisingly fired back with something similar despite the fact that “Showtime” has beat Cerrone, Benson Henderson, and Gilbert Melendez, among others:
“Pettis can say I never fought anybody,” McGregor said. “But he’s never fought anyone. Who’s he fought, really? He’s fought nobody, as well. His numbers are really, really low. He lost his last fight. That’s a crazy, crazy statement from him in my opinion.”
Regardless of the craziness of Pettis’ statement, however, McGregor suggested that he does like his fighting style and would like to fight “Showtime at some point in the future after the Roufusport product snaps back to reality:
“I like his style of fighting and I think he would be a good fight down the line,” McGregor said. “But, he needs to check his mind frame and he needs to look at the numbers and see who he really is at the top of the game, and make his climb back.”
More shots have been fired at the top of the 155-pound arena by the silver-tongued McGregor, and even more are likely to come. Will “Notorious” ever face “Showtime” in the octagon?