So, Conor McGregor is now the UFC’s featherweight champion of the world after demolishing Jose Aldo’s long title reign in just 13 seconds at UFC 194, but what comes next for the Irish superstar?
Truth be told, at this stage it’s very much up in the air. That could be seen in the aftermath of last night’s show as mixed signals began to fly around backstage about what McGregor was planning to do.
Dana White himself was claiming that McGregor was now set to move up to lightweight due to his difficulties in cutting down to 145lbs and even citing the Irishman’s long-time coach John Kavanagh who told him that he never wants to see the 27 year-old have to do that again.
That led White to believe that McGregor would be immediately vacating the featherweight title, with Jose Aldo potentially fighting Frankie Edgar for the belt while ‘Notorious’ moved up to lightweight to fight the winner of next weekend’s Rafael dos Anjos vs Donald Cerrone fight.
However, McGregor was singing a different tune and very much keeping his options open when he took command of the post-fight press conference, standing at the main dias that Dana White normally occupies to speak to the assembled media.
I know the option is there for the 155lb belt,” McGregor stated. “I’ll sit and I’ll watch this. The options are there, the options are building. We’ve got Frankie who had a good win last night, that could be for the featherweight belt…maybe a Jose [Aldo] rematch, or 155lb strap. So, I enjoy options, you know. Options are a good thing in the fight game.”
One thing McGregor was absolutely adamant however is that he has no intention of vacating the title that he’s just won.
“Tell you one thing that won’t be happening,” McGregor stated with convinction. “If I go up to that lightweight division there’s no way in hell that I’m vacating my belt. That’s not happening. There’ll be a belt on one shoulder and a belt on the other shoulder.
“I Understand why previously they would have fighters do that, because many fighters don’t fight as frequently as I do. Tell my how many fights I’ve had in the past year? You know what I mean? I’m busy, I stay active, I’m fresh.
So, when I go up for that lightweight belt and take that belt I will still be the featherweight champion also. So, I will be a dual-weight champion. There’s no going up and vacating. The belts will still be active because I am active, I’m as active as any of them. So, there’s no problem with that.”
As to where and when McGregor’s next fight might take place. He says that he intends to sit back over Christmas and assess his options and will then come back with a plan in early 2016. He tells one reporter that he’d jump at the chance to fight at Croke Park stadium in his native Ireland, but there’s no mention of UFC 200 in Las Vegas in July of next year which surely will be the most likely landing spot for his next fight, whether it’s against Edgar for the featherweight title or the winner of Dos Anjos Vs Cerrone for the 155lb strap.