My son woke me up at 6:20 this morning. It's a grey, moody day, the kind that England specialises in, the look that i give the outside world when i open the curtains is once again displayed when i open Bloody Elbow and see the news. Though i don't think i'm nearly as disappointed as Khabib Nurmagomedov, Jose Aldo, Tony Ferguson, Max Holloway or any of the other surging contenders who's potential title shots will also be delayed
Conor McGregor will face Eddie Alvarez for the Lightweight world championship at the UFC's debut in New York UFC 205. No fan of the sport who's "in the know" could effectively argue that this is the fight that, in the purest sense, "should" happen. As mentioned above, there are two very clear challengers for McGregor's own FW belt and at least two LW contenders far more deserving of the shot at Alvarez. But the UFC has not exactly shocked us by matching up Conor with different, more favourable treatment than any other fighter who has ever appeared on the roster.
Much like when Ronda Rousey faced Bethe Correia and Holly Holm, i don't think it will matter too much that the opponent for McGregor isn't anywhere near the star that Nate Diaz is, Conor's star continues to grow and with the second belt on the line, i'm sure this will come close to, or maybe even break some of the records and figures that the Irishmen already holds. So i'm not going to be one of the fans calling this, or any other fight that is given to Conor that no one else would get "unwanted", "meaningless" or "unasked for" with a lot of the UFC's choices, the hardcore fans make up a large portion of the people who will be paying attention, when it comes to Conor McGregor we are insignificant when compared with the millions of people who will pay attention to that man and no one else on the roster.
I'm the kind of MMA fan who watches every single UFC fight and Bellator main card, at the very least. it's gotten to the point where if there's a fight buried down in the fight pass prelims and i haven't heard of either guy before it actually feels jarring because i'm not used to not being up to date with the narrative of the careers of even the most unheard of UFC fighters. I love the sport for what it is, a perfect meeting of strategy and brutality, athleticism and technique, high emotion and cold killer instinct. i enjoy thinking about the stylistic match ups before the day of the event, and making predictions as to who will win. having my expectations met, broken or exceeded have become an essential part of the experience for me by now.
In essence, i'm not the kind of fan who needs a narrative to be invested in a fight, certainly not a title fight in the UFC's most widely populated and talent stacked division. But at the same time, it doesn't hurt. If i had my way Conor would defend vs Aldo, or at the very least relinquish his title and be put in a no.1 contender fight at LW. But that doesn't mean i won't be full of adrenaline when Conor makes the walk out for the fight. I had plenty of complaints for Conor vs Diaz 2 as a piece of matchmaking, but it was still always going to be an insane action fight with high stakes of a different order. The feeling of "can he do it" that i feel when Conor comes out to take on another crazy challenge is real. He brings a "big fight" feeling in a way that no one else ever has and even beyond that he walks just as well as he talks. not only has he beaten some very good fighters he is, without any of the bravado, one of the most entertaining fighters inside the cage. I have no doubt that if he had no personality he would be one of the hardcore fans true favourites.
Taking the LW title fight right now makes a lot of sense, the UFC wants a big fight for their New York debut. Eddie Alvarez has had a strange UFC Career and i don't think many expect that he will be keeping the title for long, so perhaps he could be seen as an opportune moment for Conor to achieve something that he possibly couldn't do otherwise.
So, i have no real conclusions for anyone here, really this was just a way for me to write down how i feel about something i didn't want to find out about on a day when i woke up tired and moody already, there's definitely no one around me i could bore with this. I think we all doubt that we'll ever see Conor at 145 again, but if, win or lose, he does end up dropping back down after this fight and defending, maybe this won't feel so sore after all. He's a very active fighter and could make up for lost time. If not, and he also doesn't give up/get stripped of his belt it will be the breaking point for me where i really start to feel sour on the forced stagnation of my two favourite weight classes in the sport that means so much to me. But until that happens i can't wait to see if Mcgregor can really do it. I'm a huge fan of Conor, i don't think anyone in his position wouldn't take the opportunities offered to and created by him. If we are to be annoyed or let down by anyone it's the company making the decisions. But, just as with McGregor himself, if we care enough to pay attention, they've already won.