Conor McGregor is going to be a busy man next year. With fatherhood looming the UFC featherweight and lightweight supremo recently announced he is to take time off to focus on family.
Revealing a due date of next May to the media following his sensational victory over Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205 last month, fans prepared themselves for what looked like a six month hiatus for ‘The Notorious’ one.
Now, UFC president Dana White has clarified, while appearing on UFC Unfiltered with Jim Norton and Matt Serra, that the Irishman is set to take almost a whole year away from the octagon.
Having already stated his assertion that McGregor is still ‘the man at 145 pounds’, he went on to say that,
“Conor McGregor is a very unique individual and very different. I let Conor be Conor. I let Conor do his thing. Everybody always thinks there’s some kind of animosity with me and Conor, there’s always something bad brewing. Listen, I don’t know how much more I can say it publicly how much I respect the guy, how different and special that he is, and everything else”
White then revealed the reasoning behind the ‘relinquishing/stripping’ of the featherweight belt,
“That (featherweight) belt hadn’t been defended in almost a year, and Conor’s taking another ten months off for maternity. It’s not fair to the rest of the guys in that division”
If the UFC boss’s revelation of a ten month break for McGregor are accurate, it would mean that fans should not expect to see him back in the octagon before next September, at the earliest.
In his absence there is now an interim featherweight title clash scheduled at UFC 206 on December 10th between Anthony Pettis and Max Holloway. The winner will then face the newly promoted champion Jose Aldo, sometime next year.
In the lightweight division, where McGregor now rules, there may well be an interim champion waiting for him there upon his return. With Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson on a collision course and with both laying claim to title shot credentials, the UFC, in the interest of having something to fight for, could easily pit the two contenders in a battle for some interim gold.
Whatever happens between now and the ultimate return of McGregor, the landscape he left behind last month will have changed dramatically in that time. He will have been a king in absentia and while away, pretenders to his throne will have staked their claim.
It certainly presents a number of intriguing possibilities for the Irishman and his adoring fans. Now all they have to do is wait.
Gary Brennan, Pundit Arena