With current champion Connor McGregor chasing opportunities in higher weight classes, former champion Jose Aldo and perennial contender Frankie Edgar are fighting it out for the interim title, the outcome of UFC 200 will give a big insight into the state of the division going forward. It will then become clearer after UFC 202 when McGregor has a rematch with Nate Diaz, after which, win, lose or draw he will have to return his focus to the featherweight division, in one form or another.
It appears that Connor McGregor has no further interest, in the short term at least, in returning to the division he conquered through the last two years. Admittedly he has never tried to hide his ambitions to move through weight classes, not many would have thought it would come at the expense of the 145 pound division.
McGregor rose to the top of the pile last year when he stopped 10 year champion Jose Aldo in a record 13 second fight. A new champion for a new era, but, it’s now gotten nowhere. McGregor is hell bent on squaring the ledger with Nate Diaz, and if he does, you can be sure there will be a third fight between them.
Either way, its another fight that McGregor will have outside of the weight-class that currently doesn’t have a fighting champion. Which begs the question, what happens with the Featherweight division next?
Of course, at UFC 200, former Champion Jose Aldo fights former Lightweight Champion Frankie Edgar for the interim belt. The winner moves on to fight McGregor for the ‘Proper Title’ next. However, with McGregor not 100% on returning to the division, contingencies need to be developed.
McGregor’s publicly stated desires to move up weight classes have been met with consternation for fans of the division, but fans worth their salt are happy. The weight cut to 145 pounds was brutal on him, need proof, just look at the weigh-in pictures for his fight against Chad Mendes against the weigh for the fight with Nate Diaz – 170 pounds is a much healthy place for him to be.
So, the first question is, will McGregor come back to 145 pounds? No one but McGregor knows, but if the answer is yes, then it’s an easy path forward. McGregor fights the winner of Aldo and Edgar, more then likely at the Madison Square Garden event later in the year. Then the world of UFC moves forward.
However, if the answer is no, what happens then? It’s still a somewhat simple solution, but the problem then becomes what happens to the division in the future.
If McGregor doesn’t come back to 145, he would vacate the title, and the winner of the Aldo and Edgar fight would then become the ‘proper champion.’ You then have a virtual reset on the division, with one clear champion and a clear path to becoming the champion.
Should McGregor not return and vacate the title, whoever wins the Aldo and Edgar fight would become the ‘proper’ champion and would and should go on to fight Max Holloway.
On a nine fight win streak, Max Holloway has been scything through the 145 division, with his last loss coming against Connor McGregor three years ago. The only man to take McGregor to decision, Holloway has lost three fights in six years and is the shining light of the division. In reality the only reason he isn’t getting a shot at the interim belt is because the UFC can make more money from a Aldo Edgar rematch then what they can Holloway against either of them.
With the impending suspension of consistent 145 pounder Chad Mendes, the division is thinning slightly, and if McGregor were to leave, it would make it that much harder to draw attention and excitement to it. They need answers, and they need them fast. Things will become clearer after UFC 202, but, planning needs to be made, and much like McGregor was for the last two years, Holloway is the star they need to make shine, otherwise, they’ll see the division fall flat and become predictable, like the flyweight division.