Wednesday 20 September 2017

Will Conor McGregor get his UFC title shot?

Conor McGregor celebrates after defeating Dustin Poirierby TKO at UFC 178
Conor McGregor celebrates after defeating Dustin Poirierby TKO at UFC 178
Fergus Ryan

Fergus Ryan

After Conor McGregor's stunning TKO over Dustin Poirier at the weekend, what's next for the fighting sensation?

It's just three days since UFC 178 where we saw McGregor stop his opponent in the first round just like he said he would. His performance left the commentary team and the UFC executives chanting the mantra "He's the real deal, he's the real deal" long into the night.

As the dust settles around MGM Grand Garden Arena let’s take a look at what's next for Ireland's new sports star and the UFC.

What we all want: Title shot

Jose Also defends his UFC featherweight belt against Chad Mendes on the 25th of October at UFC 179. A quick win for either could see them fit and ready for another fight in late December. Conor has made no secret of his desire to fight for the title on the UFC’s traditional end of year show on the 28th of December.

Could it happen?

Yes. The UFC are in the Conor McGregor business. He "moves the needle" as UFC President Dana White likes to say. He was the second highest paid fighter at UFC 178 behind only Demetrious Johnson who is the flyweight champion.

McGregor won’t have to be ranked #1 contender (he is #5 after UFC 178) and it won’t matter that other fighters have won more times in the featherweight division than him. The UFC like to make fights that people want to see regardless of what the record book would suggest. If the UFC thinks they’ll sell more Pay-Per-View buys by giving Conor a title shot, it will happen.

Connor McGregor kicks Dustin Poirier in their featherweight mixed martial arts bout at UFC 178 on Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

But will it happen?

That will firstly depend on the title fight between Aldo and Mendes. The State Athletic Commissions that sanction UFC events issue medical suspensions if fighters receive injuries during a bout. As UFC 179 is in Brazil, the UFC medical team will follow Nevada State Athletic Commission guidelines on medical suspensions.

If Aldo v Mendes turns into a five round war, with the champion coming out battered and bruised, it will likely be 2015 before the featherweight belt is defended again.

Secondly, there are a few fighters who have legitimate claims to being ahead of the Irish athlete in the title quest queue. The fight between Frankie Edgar v Cub Swanson on the 22nd of November would probably be considered a contender eliminator if the Dubliner wasn’t around. Edgar is a former lightweight champion and is eager to rematch the featherweight champ who beat him in 2013.

Cub Swanson is on a 6-fight winning streak and both men are ranked higher than McGregor (Swanson #2, Edgar #3).

Denis Bermudez is an outsider for a title shot but he’s on a 7-fight win streak and is ranked #8. Bermudez will fight Ricardo Lamas who was beaten by champ Aldo in February.

The Notorious: Reality Bites

So what happens next?

We wait. McGregor will be Octagonside when Aldo and Mendes fight. It wouldn’t be uncommon for the UFC to announce the next challenger to a title after an event concludes. The UFC 179 post fight press conference could be where we get the first inkling of a title shot.

If nothing transpires on the night, we wait for the medical suspensions, then the outcome of the Swanson v Edgar fight.

We should also listen to what the confident fighter says in the interim. He has been quite successful in talking things into reality in his UFC career so far. Why bet against him now?

Postscript

Paddy Holohan will take on Chris Kelades at UFC Fight Night: MacDonald vs. Saffiedine this Saturday in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Kelades steps in after Paddy’s original opponent pulled out yesterday due to an injury.

On the same night Cathal Pendred will fight Gasan Umalatov at UFC Fight Night: Nelson vs. Story in Stockholm, Sweden.

Finglas flyweight Neil Seery has been named on the UFC Fight Night: Rockhold vs. Bisping fight card that will be held in Sydney, Australia on November 8th. Neil fights Australian Richie Vaculik, which is the 3rd UFC fight for both men.

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