It’s now been made official that the biggest star in combat sports today, UFC featherweight champion the “Notorious” Conor McGregor, will be moving up in weight to challenge lightweight titleholder Rafael dos Anjos.
After destroying long-time 145-pound king Jose Aldo at December 12’s UFC 194, McGregor made it clear that he planned to jump to 155-pounds in hopes of making history.
Recently writing in The 42, the “Notorious” one’s head coach, John Kavanagh, admitted that while another opponent at lightweight was offered, a fight for the strap is what Team McGregor had their eyes set on:
“There was another option on the table at lightweight,” Kavanagh wrote, “but this is the fight we wanted because it will be the first time any fighter has held two UFC belts simultaneously. B.J. Penn tried but was unable to manage it, but I suppose if there’s one thing Conor enjoys doing more than knocking people out, it’s breaking records.”
Soon after UFC 194 last month, it was very evident that the newly crowned champion had options awaiting him. McGregor could’ve vowed to defend his title against well-deserving contender Frankie Edgar, or he could’ve decided to challenge for his second UFC world title which he obviously has chosen to do.
The Irishman, who happens to be quite the massive featherweight, has now been accused of running from Edgar, but according to Kavanagh, the questions would’ve arisen no matter which choice was made:
“If Conor’s next fight was announced as being against Frankie, there would be a lot of complaints about him cutting too much weight and being too big for the rest of the 145lbs guys. People would also claim that he was running from Rafael dos Anjos.
“Instead, they’ll say he should be staying at featherweight and that he’s afraid of Frankie. But as I’ve said many times before, it’s great that questions are being asked because answering them is what sport is all about. The day there are no more questions being asked of you is the day you’re no longer relevant.”
Once again referencing McGregor’s size, a future at featherweight may not be too realistic after a likely fight with Edgar at some point. His head coach even went as far to say that the “Notorious” knock out artist could even challenge for welterweight gold next year:
“I’ve said from the beginning that welterweight may not be out of the question,” Kavanagh wrote. “One of Conor’s main sparring partners, Gunnar Nelson, is a welterweight, so Conor is very used to that feel. I would not be at all surprised if we’re preparing to go for a third belt a year from now.”
However, that potentially prolific move lies in the future, and Kavanagh is strictly focused on RDA. Like McGregor, the head coach is typically savvy in prediction, and he has a bold one for the upcoming bout:
“Dos Anjos has looked more comfortable with his striking in his last few fights,” Kavanagh wrote, “so I think he’ll have a level of comfort on his feet, which he’ll want to test against Conor. If so, he’ll end up leaning into shots and being hit hard and early.
“I believe this will be another one that won’t see the end of the first round. If dos Anjos manages to survive the first exchange, he’ll become a panicked grappler. Should that happen, I’m looking forward to people getting an opportunity to see just how comfortable Conor is in that regard.”
Can the “Notorious” one score another first round finish and make history in the process?