At the weekend UFC color commentator Joe Rogan hinted that Conor McGregor would be fighting Eddie Alvarez for the lightweight title at UFC 205 in New York City on November 12th, but Dana White now appears to have poured cold water on the rumor.
Responding to a fan on Twitter last night, the UFC president claimed that it would be Khabib Nurmagomedov rather than McGregor who would be fighting the lightweight champion at the Madison Square Garden event.
“not true it’s @TeamKhabib,” White responded when asked to confirm or deny that McGregor Vs Alvarez was in the works.
Given that Rogan had appeared to be pretty confident that McGregor would be the one fighting Alvarez as recently as Saturday night on his ‘Fight Companion’ podcast, claiming that, “I know something that I wish I could tell,” it seems like there may have been some kind of a spanner in the works since then.
In fact, just a couple of hours before White’s post on Twitter last night, Alvarez was still calling out McGregor.
“Let’s do this @TheNotoriousMMA I’m ready!!” Alvarez wrote on Twitter. “Your futures not bright enjoy this one while it last . #ItsAllOver. The illusion of Greatness will soon be Over. It’s time for Truth ! GN guys I have an early morning #ufc205 #eafight #thnq #phillyfighter.”
Presumably Alvarez was already asleep by the time White dropped the bombshell that he wouldn’t be fighting McGregor after all, but meanwhile the Russian star was wide awake and celebrating the news that he’d finally be getting a title shot, while he also couldn’t resist taunting the lightweight champ.
“Hey @Ealvarezfight checkmate you don’t have much time let’s do this @ufc,” Nurmagomedov wrote. “Me and Dana just waiting for Eddie to sign. I promise I will finish you fast and with no pain.”
“I had a very generous birthday gift today. Thanks @danawhite @ufc #ufclightweightchamp2016 #inshaAllah.”
Many fans have seen Nurmagomedov as the future king of the division, and it’s not hard to see why with his current record standing at a perfect 23-0, with seven of those victories coming inside the Octagon in dominant fashion.
The 28 year-old Russian has been plagued by injuries in recent times however, meaning that he’s fought just once in the past two and a half years, claiming a win over late notice replacement Darrell Horcher back in April.
With that in mind, if there is an optimal time for Alvarez to fight Nurmagomedov, perhaps it is now.
Former Bellator champion Alvarez seized the UFC Lightweight title with a win over Rafael dos Anjos back in December. That was his third win in a row inside the Octagon, having already defeated Gilbert Melendez and Anthony Pettis.
So, by the looks of things Conor McGregor won’t feature in the UFC’s grand plans for the blockbuster UFC 205 card, and if so that will be the second time this year that he’s missed out on headlining a marquee show, having been pulled from UFC 200 back in July due to a disagreement with the promotion over his media schedule.
McGregor has shown that he can draw huge numbers regardless of the symbolic meaning of the event though, having already broken the UFC’s PPV record on two occasions this year with his back-to-back fights with Nate Diaz at UFC 196 and UFC 202, which delivered 1.6 and 1.7 million buys respectively.
Still, if he’s been overlooked for a lightweight title shot then it’s possible that could lead to him defending his featherweight title in a rematch with Jose Aldo instead in the coming months, though he had sounded disinterested in the match-up previously, and his camp are known to be reluctant to see him make the tough weight cut down to 145lbs again.