By Nick Catlin
On Thanksgiving, the UFC announced its biggest blockbuster star agreed to return for the first time since UFC 229. Former two-weight world champion Conor McGregor will fight Donald Cerrone on Jan. 18 in Las Vegas. But this fight will not be taking place at 155. Instead, the two will be fighting at welterweight, 15 pounds heavier than Conor’s real weight division.
For fight fans, this seemed to be a strange weight for two fighters wanting the crown at lightweight. But for McGregor, this didn’t have to be the case at all. The only time he’s fought at 170 was for Nate Diaz for their short-notice bout at UFC 196.
Why has McGregor decided to fight at 170? There are several fights that could be made at welterweight in a division that may be even more stacked than the 155 division.
The most likely reason for McGregor to move up is to fight Diaz in a trilogy bout some time down the line. McGregor wants the fight, Diaz wants it as well, despite showing disinterest in a third fight. The fight would be massive, there is one complication. After winning the second fight, McGregor stated that the third would be at lightweight as opposed to the welterweight division they fought the previous two times. Has McGregor given up on being the A-side in negotiations for the Diaz trilogy? Or is he not interested any longer in the fight?
A storyline that felt lost despite being recent was the idea of Conor McGregor and Jorge Masvidal. But UFC president Dana White stated that Masvidal was too big for McGregor and that matchup wasn’t going to happen. Then White commented that the former double champ disliked the comment about size. For years, McGregor prided himself on proving the world wrong, even if he came up short, he’s never scared of the challenge. With a win on Jan. 18, don’t be surprised if he calls out Masvidal for a potential mega-fight.
Nothing would be a bigger mega-fight than McGregor standing across from Georges St-Pierre. Two of the biggest PPV stars the sports witnessed in its short stint in combat sports. Not only would he be able to dethrone the most decorated champion at 170 to cement his legacy as one of the best ever. Let alone the money made, the potential legacy on the fight is huge for both fighters to ignore it entirely when looking toward the future.
While on the sidelines for the last few years other than one fight appearance at UFC 229, McGregor watched several fighters claim his most coveted achievement as a professional fighter, champions being crowned champion in two weight classes. During his reign, McGregor even entertained a fight with then welterweight champion Tyron Woodley. A title run at welterweight is not out of the question. Not only would he be the first to be a three-weight world champion in UFC history, but the recognition of being the greatest and most decorated fighter of all time. McGregor could be wanting to prove his boss completely wrong by not only winning a few fights but to have White wrap a belt around him in a division he doesn’t believe he can fight in would be an all-time achievement for the Irish man.
McGregor’s options open up widely with a move to welterweight. Though he may move down to 155 after this fight with Cerrone, the idea of staying at the heavier weight class isn’t out of the question given previous comments by McGregor and the lack of big fights at lightweight other than champion Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Edited by Emma Moloney | firstname.lastname@example.org