The MMA world is definitely awaiting the lightweight title main event between Conor McGregor and Eddie Alvarez at November 12’s UFC 205 from Madison Square Garden in New York City, yet there are still top 155-pound fighters who believe the booking is a bit of a joke.
That’s nothing new, however, as McGregor’s leapfrogging of a packed lightweight fray for his third consecutive fight outside of his division – where the belt sits collecting dust since last December – has caused a drawn-out uproar amongst fans and fighters alike ever since it was booked.
One lightweight who shares that sentiment is Michael Chiesa, who currently sits on the sidelines awaiting his recovery from the back injury that forced him out of a potentially great main event against Tony Ferguson this summer.
In a recent interview with MMA Fighting, ‘Maverick’ had some harsh criticism for ‘Notorious’ and his title shot, believing him to be in over his head as an easy out at 155:
I think it’s bullshit. I feel bad for the guys that have been leaped-frog by him. I do understand that there is an entertainment aspect to the sport and to this promotion, but I think you have to maintain the sport before you let a guy make moves like that. Do I like him being in my weight class? Yeah, because it’s a big money fight and I match up really well against him. I mean, I’d be one body-lock away from subbing him.
“Other than that, it doesn’t really… you know, I just feel bad for the Tony Fergusons, and the Nurmagomedovs, and these guys that have racked up these huge win streaks and they’re getting leapfrogged by a dude, who really, I mean, we’ll find out if he has any business in our division on November 12, but until then, I don’t think he’s in the right spot. He needs to go back and do what’s right. He’s got Max Holloway and Anthony Pettis in his own weight class to deal with. So I hope Eddie puts him back down to 145, but if not welcome to your new home, welcome to the deep waters.
Chiesa’s far from the first fighter to question McGregor’s ground game, but it’s also difficult to question the Irish champ at least deserving a spot in the stacked 155-pound division, as he just beat top-ranked veteran Nate Diaz in a knockdown barnburner at August’s UFC 202. We’ll soon find out if he can beat the current best lightweight on the planet, and if he does, a decision will have to be made about which title McGregor will defend next.
He’s already beaten Holloway, and Pettis, despite being an enticing style match-up with McGregor, has only won one fight at 145 pounds after dropping three straight at lightweight. That would mean bouts with Ferguson and/or Nurmagomedov could be on the horizon for ‘Notorious,’ and those would obviously be huge fights that were tough to pick.
With McGregor teasing some significant time off after UFC 205, we may unfortunately never get to see him take on the most dangerous 155-pound talent in the world.
Would he falter like Chiesa thinks he would, or would he rise to the occasion and silence his doubting peers?