UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor had to give up his featherweight title over the weekend. He never defended it after winning it on December 12, 2015.
At UFC 205 on November 12, 2016, McGregor won the lightweight belt, and has given little indication he intends to defend it soon, and every indication that he does not. ‘Notorious’ said he doesn’t want to fight until the birth of his first child in May. And the only fight he has expressed interest in is a boxing match with Floyd Mayweather. There have also been some indications he wants to fight for the welterweight title, vs. Tyron Woodley or the winner of Woodley vs. Wonderboy.
To the extent that McGregor has discussed defending the lightweight belt, it was to dismiss the undefeated #1 contender Khabib Nurmagomedov as a “pull-out merchant.” While Nurmagomedov is a perfect 24-0, lightweight Tony Ferguson too can make a title shot case, with his nine-fight win streak in the UFC. In his last five fights, El Cucuy won three Fight of the Night awards in a row, and three ‘of the Night’ performance bonuses.
Fighters are becoming skilled at call outs, but Nurmagomedov took it to a new level in a recent interview with Russia Today. He named the opponent, the month, said he wants an interim belt on the line.
“I feel very bad about this because before this year I have two years rest because I have injured all the time,” said Nurmagomedov, as transcribed by Jed Meshew for MMA Fighting. “Now I don’t want [to be] waiting for this guy. If Conor don’t want fight before May/June, I want to take other fight. I want to fight for the interim belt with Tony Ferguson.
“Last time he was injured. He pulled out, not me. He’s not coming to April 16 to the fight. Before I have been injured and now it’s, why not? Now, I think the UFC wants to make this fight. I feel this and for me its perfect date is March. Not early, only March.”
“Tony Ferguson is tough guy, tough opponent. Nine-win streak. Why not? I think this is real high-level lightweight fight. Not Conor versus me I think this is real high-level fight.”