It’s fight week! In four days time Conor McGregor takes on Eddie Alvarez for the UFC lightweight title at Madison Square Garden in New York, the headline fight of UFC 205.
Billed as one of the biggest fights of the year, the Irishman has a chance at making history by becoming the promotion’s first simultaneous two-weight champion. Already the featherweight king, McGregor is now aiming to emulate what he did when part of the Cage Warriors promotion.
As the excitement builds towards Saturday and the historic showdown, the featherweight champion has spoken out against a recent barrage of criticism aimed at him from the featherweight ranks.
Having emphatically taking the title from Jose Aldo at UFC 194 last December, the ‘Notorious’ one has gone on a weight hopping adventure this year, first in two welterweight clashes with the granite-jawed Nate Diaz, followed now by his first lightweight fight in the UFC, against current champion, Alvarez.
Speaking on his arrival in New York, and reported in the Daily Mail, McGregor reveals that Frankie Edgar was originally on his radar for a featherweight title defence, right up until he was defeated by Jose Aldo for the interim title at UFC 200.
“This should have been me and Frankie, we all know that. He just wasn’t good enough to do what I did in 13 seconds. He had 50 minutes to do what I done in 13 seconds and he couldn’t do it. So here I am and there he is on the prelims.
“Frankie wasn’t good enough or he should have been here. He wasn’t good enough to cut it. Frankie’s not good enough. Frankie’s just not good enough, I’m afraid.”
Taking aim then at the featherweight division and accusations that he can no longer make the 145lb weight, McGregor stated:
“Wherever I choose to go, I’m prepared to go there. I feel great at this weight. I mean I’m a lot leaner, I’m still eating a hell of a lot of food.
“Obviously, it’s tougher to get to featherweight, but I think it’s crazy the way they say I can’t get to featherweight no more or all these crazy things. Like I ain’t the undisputed champion. Like I haven’t gone in there and taken out the whole division as early as last year.
“December of last year that was. Not even a year ago. Then they’re talking about stripping (the title) and vacating and all this stuff, it’s like hold on a minute — what did I just go and do there? Didn’t I just take out that division? Am I not champion?”
Many will argue that there are still genuine challengers remaining in the featherweight rank. Max Holloway, who has already lost to the Irishman, is on a hot streak at the moment and the division’s most likely contender to Jose Aldo for the interim belt.
Anthony Pettis is also making a strong claim for a title shot. The former lightweight faces Holloway at UFC 206 in December for what will almost certainly be a decider for who will face Aldo for the interim belt. the winner will then take on McGregor for the title, should be decide to continue at featherweight.
Right now all eyes are on New York and UFC 205. McGregor has a chance at history. Win or lose however, there are still plenty of options open to him at featherweight. This Saturday night the question will be whether or not he is interested in returning back to the land he conquered a year ago.
Gary Brennan, Pundit Arena
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