On Saturday, MMAFighting journalist Ariel Helwani reported that the UFC was on the verge of declaring Max Holloway vs Anthony Pettis an interim featherweight title bout in an apparent attempt to add prestige to the UFC 206 event, which had just lost UFC light-heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier through injury.
Later in the day, Helwani confirmed that the bout had indeed been promoted to interim championship status. He also added that recently crowned UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor was likely to be stripped of the featherweight title he won from Jose Aldo last December but had not yet defended.
It was only a matter of time, it seemed, before the UFC made the news official.
On this morning’s UFC Fight Night 101 broadcast, the promotion did exactly that. However, the wording of the announcement was a little different than was expected, perhaps. The UFC claimed that McGregor had not been stripped but rather that he had relinquished the belt voluntarily.
— UFC Europe (@UFCEurope) November 27, 2016
According to MMAFighting, though, Helwani’s sources say otherwise. They say that the brash Pay-per-view sensation did not agree to surrender his title.
UFC says McGregor has "relinquished" the 145 title. I'm told he never agreed to that, as we reported earlier, but UFC w/i rights to strip.
— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) November 27, 2016
With former lightweight champion Pettis and rampaging Hawaiian Holloway fighting for the interim belt, the aforementioned Aldo’s status has been upgraded from interim titlist to champion. Aldo, of course, won the interim belt by scoring a unanimous decision win over Frankie Edgar at UFC 200 in July.
UFC president Dana White had claimed prior to UFC 205 and McGregor’s shot at Eddie Alvarez’s lightweight title that the Irishman would eventually have to relinquish one belt if he was successful in his quest to become two-division ruler. McGregor showed no indication in the lead-up to the Alvarez bout that he had any intention of doing so, however.
So, was he stripped or is the company line accurate? Helwani’s sources really never seem to get it wrong, so the former is most likely.
It will be interesting to hear what ‘The Notorious’ one has to say on the issue.