According to UFC president Dana White, Conor McGregor isn’t planning on returning to action until September.
If that is the case, White will move ahead with stripping him of the lightweight title and putting the undisputed belt up for grabs between current interim champion Tony Ferguson and top contender Khabib Nurmagomedov.
“If (McGregor) comes back in September, that’s almost two years (since his last MMA fight). That can’t happen. It’s not fair to everybody else,” White said (thanks to MMAjunkie for the quotes). “Love Conor, respect Conor, love everything that he’s done for this company. Everybody knows that. I say it all the time. (But) the belt would have to move on. You do Khabib vs. Tony; we’re working on that fight now. If and when Conor comes back, he would get the first crack at the title.
“I want Conor to start training again and come back and defend his title. We haven’t committed to a time yet, but as long as Conor wants to fight still, Conor and I always get it done. You know how Conor is. Conor wants to do things on his time and when he wants to do it. That’s fine. I always say I respect the kid so much for what he accomplished and what he’s brought, but if he’s not ready to go – the belt, I think he wants to come back in September. That’ll be almost two years, and that’s just not fair to the rest of the guys in the division. Let these guys fights, and when Conor decides to come back, and if he decides to come back, then he would get the first crack at the title.”
The Ferguson-Nurmagomedov contest could take place as soon as UFC 222 on March 3 from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas or UFC 223 in April from Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
McGregor had the featherweight belt stripped from his possession before ever defending it, as he won the lightweight title while also being the 145-pound champion.