In mid-January, the UFC finalized the long-awaited matchup between Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov for UFC 223. What was not confirmed, however, was whether or not the two men would be fighting for the undisputed lightweight title.
The official poster that was released weeks later showed that the fight was for the “world lightweight championship”, but with no final word from upper management if it would mean that Conor McGregor would be stripped of the title.
”That’s exactly right: As soon as one punch is thrown, it’s on for the full title and it’s only fair. They’ve both worked their way up to No. 1 and No. 2. They deserve a shot,” White said.
”This is good news for the fans. I always hear about, ‘What will you do if this guy leaves …’ This is a sport first. People leave, they’ve made money and moved on. It happens.”
White did add that he would be open to having McGregor face whoever wins the main event fight in Brooklyn on April 7th. A bout between Nurmagomedov and Ferguson has been scheduled multiple times before, but hasn’t come to fruition. That’s probably why it’s being done this way.
”Conor does want the belt, he does want to be the champion, but he doesn’t want to defend it. I’d love to see him fight the winner of Ferguson-Khabib next.”
McGregor won the 155-pound title from Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205 in November 2016, which was also his last UFC fight. He has not defended the belt a single time since winning it and instead chose to fight Floyd Mayweather Jr. in a boxing match last August, where he lost via tenth round TKO.