Conor McGregor’s recent resume hardly makes him worthy of a title shot, but the former UFC two-division champion insists it’s happening upon his return whether you like it or not.
“It’s about finding out which weight now,” McGregor told The Mac Life. “I just don’t really see myself going back to 155 again.”
Well, that’s interesting.
In recent weeks, McGregor (22-6 MMA, 10-4 UFC) has talked about coming back to a lightweight title shot despite the fact that his only division win was when he dethroned then-UFC champion Eddie Alvarez in November 2016. Outside of that, McGregor has been finished by Khabib Nurmagomedov and Dustin Poirier twice at 155 pounds.
McGregor’s tune has changed, though, in part because of how he’s recovered from the broken leg he suffered last July in a doctor-stoppage TKO loss to Poirier. McGregor is back to training (twice a day, he said), and he’s been lifting weights and not cutting calories as he’s bulked up to his “natural state.”
And so McGregor’s target has shifted from lightweight champion Charles Oliveira (or Justin Gaethje should he win at UFC 274) to welterweight champ Kamaru Usman, who’s expected to defend his belt in a rematch with Leon Edwards this summer.
Unless, of course, McGregor gets his way.
“I believe myself vs. Usman for the 170-pound title for my comeback fight is the one I’m eyeballing at the minute,” McGregor said.
“I’ve gotten myself down to a lightweight frame, but I’m big now. I feel big, I feel strong, I feel healthy, I’ve got good energy. Coming back after a gruesome injury, I do not want to deplete myself. There’s no need to deplete myself. And I feel confident against Usman – a jab-happy, sloppy orthodox wrestler with no submissions whatsoever. What’s he gonna do? Where’s the danger here? I don’t see a danger with him.”
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Aside from liking his chances against Usman, McGregor expressed a strong desire to make UFC history once again. When he knocked out Alvarez at UFC 205, then-featherweight champ McGregor became the first simultaneous two-division title holder in the promotion’s history. No UFC fighter ever has won championships across three divisions, something McGregor wants to achieve.
“The world will talk again (about) the triple crown,” McGregor said. “No one’s ever obtained three knockouts in three weight divisions moving up like I have already. But no one’s ever obtained three UFC world titles across three divisions like I will do also if we make this fight.”
He continued, “There’s history to be made. The game is to be shook up again. The triple crown has never been done. It’ll never be done in my lifetime. No one will do this in my lifetime. When I knock Kamaru Usman out at 170, that’ll be three UFC world titles won moving upward with three knockouts. I knocked out (Jose) Aldo, I knocked out Alvarez, and I’ll knock out Kamaru Usman. Three knockouts, three world titles, three weights going up.”
On paper, a McGregor title shot – in any weight class – doesn’t make sense as he’s lost three of his past four fights. Extend that further to 2016, and McGregor is 3-4 in past seven fights.
Even so, UFC president Dana White didn’t shut the door on a McGregor title shot at lightweight upon his return. Whether or not White feels the same about welterweight isn’t known, but McGregor made it clear he won’t have it any other way.
“Enough is enough with the disrespect that comes my way,” McGregor said. “People are gonna give me my respect for the many facets of my game, fighting style and everything else. I’m gonna waltz back in to a title shot. Make no mistake about it. It’s that, or I won’t (fight). It has to be a title shot. What else can it f*cking be?”
Photos: Conor McGregor through the years
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