As the UFC heads into 2018 following a questionable 2017 where their biggest star Conor McGregor didn’t fight in MMA once, their biggest question remains when – and if – ‘The Notorious’ will finally defend his title belt.
Long regarded as possibly the most talented division in the UFC, the 155-pound fray has grown increasingly packed with disgruntled contenders who want the weight class to finally move on. There’s no end to the current rut, however, as interim champion Tony Ferguson recently had surgery and is understandably waiting for his massive payday unification bout with McGregor.
That has the division on edge, and the growing sentiment amongst them is that McGregor should be stripped of his title if he’s unwilling to defend it soon like he said he would. One of those competitors is No. 7-ranked Dustin Poirier, once a foe of McGregor’s who was knocked out at 2014’s UFC 178. But “The Diamond” has been on a bit of a tear in 2017 after his last loss to Michael Johnson in September 2016, building a two-fight win streak that would be three if his controversial UFC 211 bout vs. Eddie Alvarez hadn’t been ruled a no contest by Herb Dean.
Poirier recently told MMA Weekly’s Damon Martin that the time was here for the UFC to strip McGregor:
“The thing is, the UFC’s pretending with Conor, but you have a list of top 10 fighters who aren’t pretending or messing around. This is their lives and their goals and their family’s future, a lot of stuff on the line here.
“So no pretending — let’s strip the belt from the guy or make him fight.”
Poirier undoubtedly raises a valid point by suggesting McGregor needs to defend the belt because the rest of the class is trying to further their careers, yet it could be highly unlikely due to the fact that the promotion’s far and away best shot at a monstrous pay-per-view (PPV) haul in 2018 rests on McGregor’s potential return.
Regardless, Poirier said the division needs to move on and the only to attain that necessary goal is to get McGregor out of the picture if he doesn’t want to compete:
“We have to [strip him] and then other fights make sense. Tony [Ferguson] gets the belt, his belt becomes the real belt and then he fights the winner out of these next few fights we have coming at the beginning of the year. We’ve got to clear it up.”
‘The Diamond’ is hardly the first fighter – or even lightweight, for that matter – to call out the UFC to take the brash Irishman’s gold, and those cries are only growing louder by the day.
As we’ve seen with the recent (and curious) case of returning former champion Georges St-Pierre, titles don’t mean anything close to what they once did in the UFC, as they’re really only an award placed on a match-up to make it seem as big as possible in today’s “money fight” era.
McGregor only wants compete in just those, and the Top 10 of the lightweight division aren’t really going to be his radar unfortunately, because they would provide fans with some entertaining action. After you fight Floyd Mayweather, most bouts don’t seem to get the juices flowing quite as much as they once did.
For the lightweight division’s sake, the fight game will have to hope the UFC finally lends some clarification to this growing cesspool sometime very soon.