Saturday 21 April 2018

UFC fighters with world title bouts booked are strangely obsessed with facing Conor McGregor

Urijah Faber
Urijah Faber

Tom Rooney

Such is the clamour for a shot at Conor McGregor and the ensuing windfall that brings, two of the UFC’s most seasoned competitors are already looking past their scheduled world title fights in anticipation of a showdown with the Dubliner.

Despite Nate Diaz ruthlessly assuming the mantle of  being the first man to defeat McGregor in the UFC, no fighter in the entirety of combat sports attracts more willing foes than the SBG man.

Of course, given that the featherweight champion has made a point of belittling almost all his contemporaries, while simultaneously guaranteeing those he does face a significantly bigger purse than they are accustomed to, it’s far from a mystery why this trend continues.

However, one would think such agitation is the domain of those less established fighters who have yet to secure a life-changing payday, or a red pantie night, if you will?

Not so. In recent days, both Frankie Edgar and Urijah Faber have declared a burning ambition to share the octagon with McGregor.

In Edgar’s case, it makes complete sense.

In reality, after Diaz submitted the ‘Notorious’ in the second round of the main event at UFC 196, McGregor should have immediately returned to the 145 lbs bracket and given the New Jersey native the title shot his five consecutive wins have earned him.

Instead, the Zuffa top brass granted the Crumlin native another crack at Diaz in the main event of UFC 200 on July 9.

Though, to be fair, McGregor has a record of risking everything to save major showcases after his scheduled opponents have dropped out at the 11th hour, so he probably deserves this Mulligan.

Edgar will face former long time champion Jose Aldo on the same night for the interim featherweight crown, in a rematch of their 2013 bout, which the latter won comfortably by unanimous decision.

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Even with so much at stake, the 34-year-old is already envisioning a unification battle with McGregor at Madison Square Garden. He might just be the first man ever to look past Jose Aldo.

Faber appears to have followed suit. He and McGregor have a shared and, rather surprisingly, cordial history.

Yes, McGregor knocked out Faber’s friend and teammate Chad Mendes at UFC 189 but, when the pair were opposing coaches on The Ultimate Fighter 22, their exchanges were often humorous and rarely heated.

Faber has been matched in a trilogy bout with newly crowned bantamweight champion and nemesis Dominick Cruz at UFC 199 on June 4.

Conor McGregor wanted to fight Urijah Faber at UFC Dublin to warm-up for Jose Aldo

Faber submitted Cruz in a WEC featherweight title fight back in 2007, before the latter pulled one back with a decision win in a bantamweight championship bout at UFC 132 four years later.

Cruz would be stripped of his crown due to incessant injuries before he took it back from TJ Dillashaw in January. This is the same Dillashaw who was once a close friend and protégé of Faber.

Faber will be 37 next month and has lost all of his three UFC title fights and, if unsuccessful against Cruz, he’ll never get another chance to wear the gold again. 

Yet McGregor is at the forefront of his thinking. Faber was apparently one of the many candidates to replace injured lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos at UFC 196, before Diaz was decided upon. He still hopes the match up will be realised at featherweight. .

"What I would like to do is beat Cruz, then fight Conor at 145,"he told Submission Radio.

"You never know in this sport, but I do know that I got a call from Dana White offering me the fight that Nate Diaz took.

“That's a fact. So he told me I would never fight Conor, and Conor and I got into it on the show - and I actually like Conor.”

During a broadcast of  the reality TV series, footage aired of McGregor saying he was willing to fight Faber at the Dublin event last October, but the UFC vetoed the request as he was due to meet Aldo two months' later at UFC 194.

Conor McGregor and Urijah Faber clearly are not fans of each other

Faber, who concedes significant height and weight to McGregor, is optimistic the meeting will materialise.

“You know, we got into it on the show about; he wanted to fight me, I wanted to fight him in Ireland. And then Dana said ‘you guys will never fight’.

“Then Dana called me in the morning and said ‘you know what, I told you you'd never fight, this is your opportunity. We want to give this to you, blah blah blah’.

“I said ‘alright, let's do it’ and then I got a call back from Dana saying that Conor wanted to fight Nate. So that's what happened. So it is foreseeable for sure."

One fight at a time, gentlemen.

Online Editors

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