UFC lightweight Tony Ferguson has taken the recent stripping of Germaine de Randamie of her featherweight belt as an opportunity to take aim at Conor McGregor, insisting he defends or vacates the lightweight title.
De Randamie was unceremoniously stripped of her title following her apparent unwillingness to defend the strap against number one contender Cris ‘Cyborg’ Justino. Cyborg will now contest the title at UFC 214 in July against Megan Anderson.
Following the surprise shake-up of the women’s 145lb division, Ferguson, who had been due to fight Khabib Nurmagomedov for the interim lightweight belt back at UFC 209 in March, before the Russian dramatically failed to make weight, has now seized his opportunity and attempted to apply the same rules that cost de Randamie her belt on the absent McGregor.
Quoting the UFC, Ferguson posted to his Twitter account.
— Tony Ferguson (@TonyFergusonXT) June 19, 2017
With the brutally simple tagline #DefendorVacate, the 33-year-old American has made his expectations clear and has fired the ball squarely into the respective courts of Conor McGregor and the UFC.
With the Irishman set for an August 26 boxing super-fight with Floyd Mayweather, Ferguson has, by right, every reason to demand his shot at the title, which has not been defended since McGregor claimed it back in November at UFC 205 when he decimated Eddie Alvarez in New York.
Should he maintain ownership of the belt, the reality is that it could be close to, if not over, a year before the title is actually defended.
Whether UFC bosses will decide to strip McGregor of his second belt or not remains to be seen but it is possible he could return for that long-awaited title defence at the end of the year.
One thing for sure is Dana White and the UFC would much prefer to have McGregor headlining an event than not at all. Given he is set to make up to $100 million from his fight with Mayweather, any payday he could receive in the UFC pales into insignificance.
Were he to be stripped of his belt, the question is, would he even want to return to the octagon at all?
Gary Brennan, Pundit Arena