All indications are that featherweight champion Conor McGregor will be testing himself at lightweight sooner rather than later and some of the 155lb division’s top talents are more than happy to see one of the sport’s biggest, most bankable stars in the mix.
Strong rumors emerged late this week that McGregor will move straight into a title fight with current lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos at UFC 197 in March, and along with appearing to confirm that is the case, RDA’s manager Rafael Cordeiro also told Sherdog.com that the Brazilian can’t wait to get into the Octagon with the outspoken Irishman.
“From our part, it’s already signed. It’s important to make it clear that this was a request from McGregor,” Cordeiro said. “Rafael is really happy to ‘welcome’ him in a brutal way to the lightweight division.”
Dos Anjos has been on a terrific run over the past couple of years, already dismantling a series of top rated talents like Ben Henderson, Anthony Pettis, Nate Diaz and most recently Donald Cerrone, and his manager is confident that McGregor will be next on the list.
“It’s a fighter that we truly believe we can beat,” Cordeiro stated. “He’s coming from a lower division, and he can be sure that he’ll face a strong champion who will not change his style. McGregor has already proven to be a great athlete, but we have five rounds to beat him and Rafael is coming in hungry to beat him, not only physically but spiritually, and to break his soul inside the Octagon. I bet Rafael will finish him in a brutal way, the same way he has finished his last fights.”
Meanwhile, former lightweight champion Anthony Pettis indicated that he’s happy to see the 145lb champion stepping up to his division.
“The 145 division was dominated by Jose Aldo the whole time, so you got a guy that takes out Aldo and he moves up a weight class, of course everybody’s going to want to watch it,” Pettis stated during a UFC Fight Night 81 press gathering. “I welcome it. Hopefully he stays and we see how good he really is.”
Pettis’ next opponent, Eddie Alvarez also sees the benefit of having McGregor compete at lightweight and think it’ll be good for business.
“I think anything or anybody who brings more money to the sport is a good thing. It’s hard for me to say anything bad about it,” Alvarez said. “Regardless of whether people think he deserves this or he deserves that, the truth is when one fighter gets paid more, it’s good for all of us. Every, single one of us.
“So I’m happy he brings marketability to the division and it’s not up to me or any fighter to say what he deserves or doesn’t. Our bosses make that decision no matter how we perform out there. Happy to see money coming in.”