Conor McGregor has not fought in the UFC since Nov. 12, 2016, at Madison Square Garden for UFC 205. He was not scheduled to fight at UFC 223 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Saturday night. And yet McGregor was always going to be the story of UFC 223.
That’s because McGregor is bigger than the UFC, and the titles he once held were both connected to UFC 223’s main event. Then McGregor decided to make himself the star of the show by invading media day on Thursday afternoon. During the fracas that followed, McGregor was caught on camera attacking a bus full of fighters. Two fighters — Michael Chiesa and Ray Borg — sustained injuries that forced them off the UFC 223 card. A third fight, involving McGregor’s friend Artem Lobov, also was canceled because of Lobov’s role in the melee.
In an alternate universe, things could have been so different. McGregor could have shown up at media day on Thursday and produced a spectacle along the lines of what he did with Nate Diaz, when water bottles and cans were thrown before their second fight. The shenanigans would have generated tons of headlines and interest in UFC 223 would have swelled. Then, this morning, when Max Holloway was deemed unfit to fight, who would have been there to step in? McGregor. The shining Irish knight could have saved the day and fought Nurmagomedov, his greatest adversary, on one day’s notice. It would have been the stuff of legends. McGregor was perfectly prepared to do just that: The criminal complaint against him lists his weight at 155 pounds, which just so happens to be the lightweight limit.
Instead of being the hero, McGregor became the handcuffed villain. The night before, UFC president Dana White was asked if he wanted to be in business with McGregor. He replied with an unequivocal, “No.”
It is hard to take White at his word, though. Take, for example, his big announcement Wednesday that McGregor and Ferguson were being stripped of their titles. What he actually said — referring to the fight between Nurmagomedov and Holloway — was, “No interim champ, when this fight is over, one of these guys will be the champion.” White’s words now drip with Nostradamus-like prescience because the fight between Nurmagomedov and Holloway isn’t happening. Which begs the question: Who, right now, is the champion? According to the UFC’s own website, that honor still belongs to McGregor, while Ferguson is still listed as the interim champion.
Whether there is truth behind White’s words almost doesn’t matter because he is not McGregor’s boss. McGregor does whatever he wants and everyone else bends to his will.
White always said that Floyd Mayweather-McGregor wouldn’t happen. Then it happened. Months passed and by the time the UFC returned to MSG in November 2017, White had changed his tune. Last year, according to White, was the greatest one in UFC history because of the money generated by the much-hyped boxing match. This despite the fact that the UFC’s non-McGregor pay-per-view numbers weren’t good and every objective observer noted that 2017 was one of the worst years in UFC history.
UFC 223 was supposed to be the first great card of 2018 to right the UFC’s struggling ship. Not only did it have two great title fights, but it was chock-full of awesome undercard bouts. Plus it was inexorably linked to McGregor because it centered on the lightweight title, which the Irishman won at UFC 205. Undefeated Khabib Nurmagomedov (25-0) was originally going to fight interim lightweight champion Tony Ferguson (25-3) for the undisputed title. Then, last weekend, Ferguson dropped out because of a freak injury he suffered at a media event.
On just a week’s notice, Holloway, the UFC’s featherweight champion, stepped up to fill Ferguson’s spot. Holloway’s belt once belonged to McGregor when he won it off Jose Aldo by knocking the Brazilian legend out in 13 seconds. Nine days after UFC 205, the UFC stripped the title from McGregor, and Holloway eventually earned it by winning an unofficial tournament of top contenders.
Nurmagomedov versus Holloway was a pretty good consolation prize of a main event. Unfortunately, UFC 223 is cursed, and on Friday morning, during weigh-ins, the New York State Athletic Commission declared that Holloway was medically unfit to fight. The decision was a shocker because moments before, White was speaking live on ESPN, where he said he’d just spoken with Holloway’s nutritionist, who said the weight cut was going well.
During that same interview, White revealed that he had been in contract talks with McGregor about his return to the UFC. White also said those talks are now sidelined, following McGregor’s arrest.
Don’t believe a word of it. McGregor has said through various proxies — including White — that he wants to return to the cage in September. White could hit McGregor with a seemingly harsh six-month suspension that would line up with September nicely.
Or they could push McGregor’s return by a month. November is, after all, the time of year when the UFC makes its annual pilgrimage to Madison Square Garden.
Source : https://nypost.com/2018/04/06/the-ufc-enabled-conor-mcgregor-to-become-a-monster/