The Money Game

The UFC featherweight division is in crisis. It seems odd saying that given the genuinely stacked nature, but it is true. And unfortunately it stems from the top.

The once bitter and gripping feud between the King, Prince and Joker has been blown to pieces. It was a glorious trilogy that could run – each fighter able to expose the weaknesses of another in a vicious title changing circle. Throw in a few exciting young prospects and you could have defined an era.

But the Prince has been popped, the King dethroned and the Joker a cash cow.

If McGregor does choose to fight Alvarez at UFC 205, he should be stripped of his title. Call me old fashioned, but I still believe that titles mean something. They should represent your struggle and climb up the ladder until you are the pinnacle of your sport. Arguably, this is precisely what McGregor has done and has earned the right to cash in. A freight train of hype blasting through opponents like no other to scale that mountain top. But now he is taking away that chance for the others.

This will be the third time he has chosen to wilfully not defend his crown. A single time I will happily concede, allowing the division to define the number one contender. But having both an active Champion and Interim Champion? A mockery. The title belts are proving to be less about prestige and more about revenue.

The repercussions are being felt. Aldo, who has a history of selective activity, will no doubt wait for his second chance at McGregor. Despite the Irishman’s protestations, there is an appetite for a rematch. The manner of victory leaves a lot to be answered – was it a fluke? Can his technique match up to the purest all round fighter in the history of the division? We might never know.

And beyond this you only have to turn to Holloway. A nine fight streak – but a list of names that fall comfortably outside top contenders. What other division could you piece together such a run and not be in the title frame? He has matured in front of us yet utterly fails to get recognition and struggles to get top notch opposition.

Perhaps he is lucky Pettis has slunk down a division. He can provide a true test – and a fan blessed fight – given his previous title holding credentials. Here is a get out clause the UFC should snap up and call the number one contendership bout in order to save some respect.

Sadly, the only prospect of resolution lies within the problem. McGregor. Perhaps a situation whereby he takes the Alvarez fight – allowing him to potentially create history and dual title wield – but then is stripped in the intervening timeframe before Aldo next graces the octagon. Thereby you appease your number one asset, and restore a modicum of repute to the sport.


One thought on “The Money Game

  1. Hi man, Kevin(Barry) here.

    I think when you say the FW division is in “crisis” is a bit melodramatic. I feel even from the moment when Aldo hit the mat, the see-saw effect of the majority of fans is one of OTT fan boyism and the other of complete disdain for him. My personal preference after that fight was to see him fight Edgar. But given the chance to hold two belts simultaneously, I think any fighter would jump at the chance.

    He made the decision to challenge for the LW belt in a time frame I think was acceptable. Edgar had won his fight quickly, Conor in 13 seconds and dos Anjos without breaking a sweat. So the turnaround was a little over 3 months after that decision was made to fight dos Anjos in March – which I think personally was an acceptable time frame – despite the protestations from Edgar and his team.

    We know what happened with dos Anjos pulling out and Diaz coming in as a late replacement and beating Conor. The rematch made no sense whatsoever, but I’d make the point that Conor – not deserving special treatment – but more so being given a concession to ask for the rematch right away, given the profitable year Zuffa had from him alone and what Kavanagh alluded to as being a factor in him calling for that concession.

    I would say that’ “Sadly, the only prospect of resolution lies within the problem. McGregor. ” is an opinion that points one finger at one person who, ultimately, the decision doesn’t lie solely with. The UFC make up the bout agreements and sign the cheques at the end of the day, so in some respects, they were on board with the second Diaz fight happening. And even then, that fight was penciled in for July at UFC 200, which given the lack of activity the previous Champion was notorious for, it was still a time frame that I think wasn’t out of the norm’ for the FW belt being defended – but granted – Holloway has emerged as a worthy contender. The division has potential contenders in the future with Choi and Rodriguez, too.

    Just to rewind a bit and I know you’re aware of what happened; but 200 was a marquee event and needed someone who was going to bring in PPV numbers and ticket sales for the event. With Rousey out, Conor was the only viable option at that time to headline the card and maximize the PPV and ticket sales.

    I know the thesis of your post is about the FW division, but I think it’s come to what it is with all that baggage from the months prior and needs to be mentioned, imo. My line of thinking when Conor mentioned that the Aldo fight didn’t appeal to him, I felt maybe it could be a way of him saying in public ‘pay me more’ to fight him. Then we have the New York card – which is arguably going to be the biggest event this year – given the cluster fuck 200 was, and again, the UFC are going to need the only fighter headlining that card that guarantees sales all round will do well, and potentially break the PPV record.

    For me, it’s all about the sport. So PPVs, fighter pay, belts, etc, don’t mean anything to me – so if Conor does get stripped of the belt, it doesn’t affect me, nor do I think it affects him – really it’s PPV numbers that are his ‘belt’ I do get the sense that he’d like to have that feather in his cap of being the first fighter to hold two belts simultaneously and given that New York has a massive Irish population and Alvarez is from Philadelphia, it feels like that would do better than Conor and Aldo.

    I do think if he was to hold both belts, his next fight would be at FW. People have speculated that the weight cut is an issue, but they’re the people looking in from the outside. While the people closely attached to Conor – most notably George Lockhart, who is his nutritionist – doesn’t see him making 145 as a problem.

    Not to sound like I’m making an excuse on Conor’s part, but the only real contenders are Aldo and Holloway, who haven’t seemed to be making too much noise for him to be stripped, as they know it’s a fight that most likely bulks up their bank account.

    Cheers, Kevin.


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