The UFC haven’t stood in new featherweight champion Conor McGregor’s way after he decided that he wanted to move up to lightweight to challenge the division’s champion Rafael dos Anjos for the belt at UFC 196 in March, but Dana White has revealed that this might be a step too far for the Irish sensation.
“I don’t see how [McGregor] wins this fight,” White told the ‘At The Buzzer’ show earlier this week. “He’s the 145 pound champion, he can stay right in his own lane. This guy’s moving up to 155 [pounds] to take on an animal who destroyed ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone, destroyed Anthony Pettis, and this isn’t like boxing where you move up two or three pounds. You move up 15 pounds.”
White is incorrect – it’s only a 10lb leap from featherweight to lightweight, but his basic point still remains and he’s not the only one to question whether ‘The Notorious’ is biting off more than he can chew.
The truth is there’s no easy fights for McGregor at this stage though as staying at featherweight would have almost certainly meant facing Frankie Edgar who would also have proven a handful for the 27 year-old with his tried and tested mix of striking and wrestling.
Dos Anjos is particularly daunting challenge though given that the Brazilian appears to have evolved into an absolute monster over the past few years who’s swatted aside a host of talented fighters like Donald Cerrone, Anthony Pettis, Ben Henderson and Nate Diaz with surprising ease on his route to the summit of the 155lb division.
Still, it’s a surprising admission from White to count out McGregor so readily, not just because he’s 7-0 in the UFC to date with six of those wins coming by stoppage due to strikes and coming off a 13 seconds victory over Jose Aldo who was ranked as the No.1 pound-for-pound fighter in the sport, but also because the Irishman is also the UFC’s biggest box-office draw in 2016.
However, while both men deny it, there have been persistent rumors that White and McGregor’s relationship has broken down behind the scenes as McGregor looks to leverage his success to make more money and gain more control within the promotion, so that may have something to do with it.
Whatever the case, it’s unlikely that McGregor will have taken too kindly to White’s words, and he’ll have a chance to prove him wrong when he goes head-to-head with RDA at UFC 196 in Las Vegas on March 5th.