2016 has been a crazy year for fans of MMA. As always the UFC had the top shelf offering of all the major promotions, and they did so with a stream of high quality cards. At the zenith of the UFC’s pay-per-view draws this year were Conor McGregor and his rival Nate Diaz. UFC 196 and UFC 202 ranked in the top three biggest cards in the promotion’s history. McGregor vs. Diaz 2 smashed the bar set by UFC 100 with a cool 1.6 million buys. Was it any surprise the UFC put McGregor in against Eddie Alvarez at UFC 200?
Following his string of successful cards, albeit one with a loss, the charismatic Irishman was injected in to the UFC’s New York debut without hesitance. One topic that’s been hotly debated ahead of UFC 205 is the potential effect on the direction of MMA moving forward. The apparent disrespect from the UFC towards Jose Aldo has led to the interim champion retiring, and the decision to put McGregor ahead of the killers row at 155 has alienated many top contenders.
McGregor vs. Alvarez
Looking like it could well be the biggest card of all-time, UFC 205 is pivotal for so many reasons. The fact McGregor will not be stripped of the 145-pound title to compete against Alvarez is another key factor in this debate. The Irish star will look to become the first ever champion to hold two UFC belts in different weight classes at the same time. After the big announcement of the UFC 205 card came the teaser of McGregor’s own ‘left field’ announcement.
UFC president Dana White said Conor had some ‘personal issues,’ and would make a big announcement out of ‘left field’ following UFC 205. This has led to massive speculation, one opinion being that McGregor’s girlfriend has fell pregnant. Another guess is that ‘The Notorious’ will retire, or maybe take a year off. With so much riding on this one historic bout in Madison Square Garden on November 12, check out Five Possible Outcomes From Conor McGregor vs. Eddie Alvarez…
McGregor Defeats Alvarez, Retires
This future involves Conor McGregor winning the lightweight title,then calling it quits as a two-weight UFC champion. Complications aplenty would arise from ‘The Notorious’ riding off in to the sunset with two belts on his back. Obviously the issue of who fights for two vacated belts would be complicated enough, but in this outcome there’s the ‘McGregor shadow’ to consider.
‘The Notorious,’ although retired, would forever shadow the current crop of contenders in both divisions. This isn’t to say that both weight classes wouldn’t move on in time, but look at the scenario with Daniel Cormier right now. ”DC’ may have lost in his bid against Jon Jones, but by no fault of his own was fighting for the vacant strap against Anthony Johnson at UFC 187. ‘Bones’ was stripped of the belt and has been pulled once again from the running due to a failed drug test. All this, and Cormier still receives criticism as champion. Imagine the impact on 155 and 145 if this were to be the outcome at UFC 205.
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Alvarez Defeats McGregor, 1 Year Off
Let’s say Eddie Alvarez defeats Conor McGregor at UFC 205, what then? Assuming Conor’s big announcement after November 12 is he needs a year off, what happens to the featherweight belt? Of course you’d think the promotion would free up the title by stripping McGregor, but with Jose Aldo calling it quits, would the UFC consider a long-term interim champion?
Surely not, that would go against everything a legitimate sport would stand for, correct? In theory its a simple equation, but money can often complicate things. Indeed McGregor could likely walk back in to title fights in multiple weight classes, even after 12 months out, so the likelihood is that he’d be stripped if unable to defend the featherweight belt. Don’t put money on it though.
McGregor Wins, 1 Year Off
UFC president Dana White hinted at ‘The Notorious’ being stripped of one of his titles after UFC 205, assuming he wins. If the Irish star is able to take out ‘The Silent Assassin’ in New York City, could he sit on another belt for an extended period of time. The last 11 months have seen McGregor fight two times, both at welterweight, while holding the 145-pound belt. Would it be acceptable to have the Irish sensation keep the 155-pound belt if he’s taking a break from fighting all together?
Stranger things have happened, and if he does in fact defeat Alvarez, McGregor’s sway would only be amplified by the fact he’d be a record-breaking two-weight current champion.
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McGregor Wins, Not Stripped
OK, so this outcome is an extremely ‘imaginative’ one, but nothing is impossible nowadays. Let’s say the Irish striker takes out Alvarez, and claims he’ll defend belts in both divisions in turn. This is also assuming his ‘left field’ announcement has nothing to do with time away or retirement. Could this be a realistic task for McGregor to commit himself to?
Once again we’re brought to the subject of money. Whether or not ‘The Notorious’ could juggle two titles to the satisfaction of the contenders in both divisions, he’s such a huge PPV draw that the promotion would likely let it happen. Of course this is purely speculative, but ask yourself this-nearly a year ago, if someone had told you McGregor would fight twice at welterweight and once at lightweight without losing his featherweight title, would you have believed them?
Alvarez Wins, McGregor Back To 145
Let’s say Conor McGregor is unsuccessful in his lightweight title show against Eddie Alvarez. Assuming he remains fighting for the meantime, and the UFC allows him to retain the featherweight belt, what’s left for McGregor at 145 pounds?
- Jose Aldo-interim champion-refusing to fight, demanding contract release and stating he’s retired.
- Frankie Edgar, former lightweight champion, lost to Jose Aldo at UFC 200, fighting Jeremy Stephens at UFC 205, possible next title contender.
- Max Holloway, nine fight win streak, lost to Conor McGregor in 2013, very possible title contender.
- Ricardo Lamas, coming off loss to Holloway, 3-3 in last 6, lost to Aldo, Mendes and Holloway, unlikely title contender
- Cub Swanson, two fight win streak, lost to Holloway and Edgar, possible title contender.
- Anthony Pettis, former lightweight champ, new to the division, big name, likely title contender.
- Jeremy Stephens, fighting Frankie Edgar at UFC 205, losses to Holloway, Edgar and Oliveira. Recently beat Renan Barao, possible title contender.
- Charles Oliveira, 1-2 in his last 3, losses to Holloway and Pettis, unlikely title contender.
- Dennis Bermudez, two straight wins, a few more and could be in title contention, quite far back in the queue.
- Brian Ortega, undefeated, thee straight wins and one NC in the UFC, possible future contender.
Although Conor McGregor has been away, aside from the very top end, the featherweight division has seen some new blood emerge, This is perhaps the most intriguing, but also unlikely, possibility of them all.