Though UFC president Dana White has been adamant that Conor McGregor will relinquish one title should he add the lightweight belt to the featherweight strap already in his possession at UFC 205, ‘The Notorious’ Irishman’s recent comments don’t support that suggestion.
At the UFC 205 press conference back in late September, McGregor told members of the media and fans who had gathered at the Theater at Madison Square Garden that he intended on holding on to both prizes in the event of a victory over current 155-pound titleholder Eddie Alvarez.
“They’re going to have to gather an army to try and take one of them (belts) off me, and that’s out straight,” McGregor said. “One’s going to be there, one’s going to be there, and I’m going to be picking and choosing who I want to destroy next. And that’s it(via MMAFighting).”
Last week, during a media conference call, the stubborn Pay-per-view star once again rubbished the idea that he would vacate either title.
“Vacate? I don’t know, we’ll see about that,” he said. “Why not defend them both? I fight every week. I only fought last week. So, I can defend them both.”
Sandwiched in between these declarations, McGregor did seem to waver briefly, telling Sports Illustrated that he just wanted to achieve history, by becoming the first man to hold two UFC titles simultaneously, and enjoy it for “half-a-day” before discussing the possibility of giving up one of the titles.
Still, this was a rare expression of flexibility from McGregor amidst more frequent, often vociferous assertions to the contrary.
During his appearance on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour, McGregor’s head coach John Kavanagh said that he had never heard his fighter sound flexible on the matter.
“I have not heard a hint of him giving up the belt,” said Kavanagh. “He has never said to me, ‘Oh, I’m going to hand back the [145-pound belt] or the [155-pound belt]’. Any time I have heard him talking about it, he has always been very clear, very loud, very vocal about saying, he fights very often.”
“It’s not unusual for a champion to defend the belt once a year or twice a year. This is his fourth contest in a 12 month period, so, why not?”
Of course, the fact that McGregor’s cuts to 145lbs are infamously tough has led many to assume that he will give up the featherweight belt if he beats Alvarez. With a new title in tow and that historic achievement in the bag, why wouldn’t he focus his attention on the far more natural lightweight class and leave the extreme cuts in the past?
However, Kavanagh believes that, with the input of new nutritionist George Lockhart, the drop to the featherweight championship limit would be far less extreme than it has been in the past.
“He is with [Lockhart] a year now,” said the trainer. “With some of the things we have learned from him – quite simple things – ’45 for him now, I believe, would be easier than what it was when we did it for his first two or three fights in the UFC. Because, what was I doing? I was googling stuff and [I would say] ‘Okay, try this’ and looking at him on the scales and wrapping him in plastic and going running. All these kind of crazy old-school methods. But we still got there. We still never missed weight.”
“Now, Lockhart lives with us [during camp], you have a chef on call. All the macronutrients are taken care of and I actually think ’45 now would be easier than it was at the start. So, he can definitely do it.”
When Lockhart first joined the McGregor camp, the Dubliner was only three weeks out from UFC 194 and his bout with Jose Aldo, yet the nutritionist’s contributions in that limited amount of time made it one of the easier weight cuts of McGregor’s UFC career.
“It’s never easy but this was as easy as you could make it,” Kavanagh said on a December episode of The MMA Hour.
Perhaps given a little more time with which to work alongside Lockhart, though, it could get even easier.
Even now, whilst preparing for a bout at lightweight, Kavanagh said that McGregor’s weight is actually not all that dissimilar to what it would normally a few days out from a featherweight contest. In fact, it’s a little lower than it has been on some occasions in the past.
“You know, without giving away numbers, right now he is lower than he has been this far out for some ’45 contests.”
In that case, Dana White better be prepared for a real battle if he wants McGregor to release a title belt post-UFC 205.
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