UFC superstar Conor McGregor became the first fighter in UFC history to simultaneously hold titles in two different weight classes when he beat lightweight champ Eddie Alvarez at Madison Square Garden in New York in November 2016.
He may soon be without a belt despite the fact he hasn’t stepped in the cage since that night.
UFC president Dana White told the Los Angeles Times on Friday he would strip McGregor of the lightweight belt as soon as top contenders Khabib Nurmagomedov and interim champ Tony Ferguson step in the cage for the main event of UFC 223 on April 7 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
McGregor, whose only competition of 2017 was a boxing match against Floyd Mayweather Jr., was stripped of the featherweight belt in December 2016 when it became clear he was unlikely to return to 145 pounds.
White had previously said McGregor was still the lightweight champion, but Ferguson and Nurmagomedov would fight for the undisputed belt.
“As soon as one punch is thrown, it’s on for the full title, and it’s only fair,” White said. “They’ve both worked their way up to No. 1 and No. 2. They deserve a shot.”
White has been hesitant in stripping the title because Nurmagomedov and Ferguson had been scheduled to fight on three previous occasions, but have yet to meet in the octagon.
White said the organization will wait until the bell actually rings to take away McGregor’s second belt.
There has been speculation, including from White, about whether McGregor would ever compete in the UFC again.
Last week, he posted on social media he “absolutely” planned on competing again. He added that he had offered to step in as a late replacement on Saturday’s UFC 222 card at T-Mobile Arena only to be told by the UFC there wouldn’t be enough time to promote his appearance.
White indicated Friday he would give McGregor the option for fighting for the belt upon his return.