Conor McGregor | Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
In an interview with TheMacLife, the UFC’s first fighter to hold title belts in two weight classes simultaneously expressed his desire to capture a third, this time at 170 pounds. McGregor has been sidelined recovering from injury since he broke his leg in a trilogy bout with Dustin Poirier last July and when he comes back, he wants it to be for nothing less than gold.
“I believe versus Usman for the 170-pound title for my comeback is the one I’m eyeballing at the minute,” McGregor said. “Now I haven’t really said that to no one to be honest, I’ve only been thinking that for the last couple of days because for what cut the weight? I’ve already won the 155-pound title, I got 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. I’m coming back after a gruesome injury. I do not want to deplete myself, there should be 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. His ground-and-pound isn’t strong, plus he’s on the older side. And then plus the world is to be took again. The triple crown. 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 cross three divisions like I will do also if we make this fight.”
Usman is currently one of MMA’s most dominant champions and sits atop MMA Fighting’s Pound-for-Pound rankings. He sports a 15-0 record inside the octagon and has successfully defended the UFC welterweight title five consecutive times.
McGregor has not held a UFC title since 2018, when he was stripped of the lightweight belt due to inactivity (following a title fight win over Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205 in 2016, McGregor set up a boxing match with Floyd Mayweather Jr. the following year). He returned to MMA in 2018 to challenge rival Khabib Nurmagomedov for the lightweight title at UFC 229, but was defeated. He is just 1-3 since the win over Alvarez.
There has been buzz that McGregor could granted an immediate title shot when he returns, a suggestion that has been met with criticism, but McGregor doesn’t think anyone should be surprised if it happens.
“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. My fighting style and everything else. I’m gonna waltz right back into a title shot, make no mistake about it. It’s that or I won’t, you know what I mean? It has to be a title shot. What else can it f****** be?
“Now I’m saying that, let’s see how things shake up. There’s plenty of fights. I’m a fighter at the end of the day. I’ll say that, but I’ll probably f****** do anything because I just want to fight and compete. But I want that gold belt. I’m gonna get that world title that has the Irish tricolor emblazoned on it. I’m the reason that tricolor is on that UFC world title. So I’m eager to get my hands on that belt.”
The lightweight title will next be contested at UFC 274 on May 4 when champion Charles Oliveira defends against Justin Gaethje. Though Oliveira has expressed an interest in fighting McGregor, “The Notorious” sees himself possibly making a permanent move to welterweight instead.
“It’s about finding out which weight now,” McGregor said. “I just don’t really see myself going back to 155 again. I’m eating, I’m lifting, I’m training and I’m not cutting calories so this is my natural state. I can go even bigger.”
“I’m eyeballing 170, I think. I don’t want to go too much above 170, so I like 170, I’ve always had a great time when I’ve had a full camp at 170 with correct preparation. The Diaz 2 rematch and the ‘Cowboy’ fight in particular. I thought they were flawless performances. They were probably some of my best performances inside the UFC octagon and they were without any calorie deficiency whatsoever.”
McGregor is not committing to a return date, though he mentioned “late summer” as a possibility. He said recovery from the broken leg hasn’t been nearly as difficult as the ACL tear he suffered earlier in his career.
Providing added motivation is a potential clash with Usman and the chance to become the first “champ-champ-champ” in UFC history.
“I’m very excited.” McGregor said. “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, win three world [titles].
“If I—Not if, when I knock Kamaru Usman out at 170, that will be three UFC world titles won moving upward with three knockouts. I knocked out [Jose] Aldo, I knocked out Alvarez, and knock out Kamaru Usman. Three knockouts, three world titles, three weights goin’ up.”