White: McGregor Would Be In Gaethje’s Position
Conor McGregor may not be “retired” now if he stepped in at UFC 249 last month.
McGregor was expected to face the winner of the planned Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Tony Ferguson title fight set to take place in April. The Irishman even previously claimed he was ready to step in should either fighter pull out as he hoped to have an active 2020.
But with the circumstances that led to Nurmagomedov eventually having to pull out of the fight amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Ferguson eventually ended up battling Justin Gaethje for the interim lightweight title last month.
However, it could have easily been McGregor vs. Ferguson — if the former didn’t change his mind about being a replacement fighter according to UFC president Dana White.
“Conor had the opportunity to slide into that spot [at UFC 249] if Khabib or Tony fell out,” White told ESPN’s First Take (via ESPN MMA). “He came back and said, ‘I’m not a replacement fighter. I’m not gonna do it.’
“He would be in that position right now if he took that fight. He didn’t, Gaethje did, so Gaethje gets it.”
Gaethje is now expected to face Nurmagomedov in a title unification fight later this year.
McGregor, meanwhile, will have to wait if he wants a shot at the lightweight strap. And the fact that he didn’t get his wish of facing Gaethje in the summer ultimately contributed to his latest retirement.
What do you think of White’s revelation?