On Friday evening, Dana White confirmed the news that Conor McGregor would not be fighting again until next May at the earliest.
Speaking after his emphatic victory at UFC 205 last Saturday, the two weight champion announced that his long-term girlfriend, Dee Devlin, was expecting a child next year and that he was going to take some time to evaluate his options.
With the baby not due until May however, many had expected that the Irishman would enter the octagon for one final contest before the due date. In fact, with UFC 209 scheduled to take place in Brooklyn next February, it had been thought that a trilogy fight with Nate Diaz was on the cards early next year.
However, speaking to the LA Times, Dana White made it clear that would not be the case as the UFC President announced that McGregor will not fight again before his child is born.
“He won’t fight before May. His girl gets super stressed out when he fights. He doesn’t want her having any of that stress while she’s pregnant.
“He’s good. He should take time off. He’s been fighting nonstop. Nothing wrong with him taking time off. It’s good for him and her and it’s good for the baby.”
McGregor’s break will have consequences however and, looking at the two divisions he will be leaving behind, they’re not hard to identify.
Jose Aldo Will Finally Be The Featherweight Champion Again
Having now held the featherweight title for 11 months without defending it, McGregor is finally in a position where he has no other option, he must defend the title in his next bout or vacate the 145 lbs crown.
If the 28-year-old was willing to take on one more contest early next year, then a rematch with the interim featherweight champion, Jose Aldo, would surely be a strong possibility.
However, given the amount of time the Brazilian has already waited, McGregor’s hiatus will surely mean that the belt will be vacated and Jose Aldo will once again, become the undisputed featherweight king.
Khabib Nurmagomedov Will Likely Become The Interim Lightweight Champion In His Absence
Although it is possible that the Irishman could in fact relinquish both belts, it would come as some surprise if the SBG Star let go of the 155 lbs strap having only acquired it last week.
Not defending the belt in six months is certainly a stretch, however, it is not unprecedented and, given the UFC’s tendency to put interim belts up for grabs as of late, it is likely that this will be the avenue chosen.
Although there seems to be two genuine contenders beneath McGregor in the form of Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson, it’s hard to imagine a situation in which Conor would not find the terrifying Russian awaiting him upon his return.
Nurmagomedov recently threatened to quit the UFC if he was not allowed a shot at McGregor in his next bout. However, with the rather understandable news confirmed that the Irishman will not be entering the octagon in the next six months, one would imagine that the Russian will be placated by an interim fight with Ferguson.
Get Ready For More Records
Although Khabib does, at this point in time, look like the most probable opponent upon McGregor’s return, it is very possible that the Irishman will look for a super fight in his comeback bout.
There is nothing quite like a prolonged absence to garner interest and, should McGregor really wish to capitalise on a ‘comeback’ themed pay-per-view, he should do so with a superstar opponent.
The Diaz trilogy is still hanging in contention, Tyron Woodley has begun a targeted campaign aimed at the Irishman, while former UFC legend Georges St-Pierre also looks certain to make his comeback next year.
Whatever McGregor chooses, his return in late 2017 will almost certainly break the UFC’s pay-per-view records. The only question is by how much…
John Murphy, Pundit Arena
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