Whispers are mounting that Conor McGregor could be next in line for a shot at the lightweight belt after UFC champion Charles Oliveira missed the weight for UFC 274 on Friday.
Oliveira came in at 155.5 pounds – half a pound over the weight limit for his title fight against Justin Gaethje in Phoenix. The absence means the title is now vacant and will remain so if Oliveira wins. Welterweight contender Belal Muhammad thinks The shocking development opens the door for McGregor to fight for the belt upon his return, and also threw a bit of a shadow in his path.
“Conor probably sabotaged the scale.” Mohammed wrote. “He’s the only one who’s benefited from it. If Justin wins tomorrow, I’m pretty sure he’ll be next.”
McGregor was particularly active on social media After the news, he stoked fire that he might be eyeing a title shot.
If Gaethje wins it’s clear he would welcome a shot against McGregor. Gaethje had some strong words for the former bipartite champion on the Full Send Podcast.
“At the end of the day, after I’ve won this fight, it’s two people’s turn,” Gaethje said. “There is Beneil Dariush and (Islam) Makhachev and they have to fight each other. If Conor McGregor is there then I think he is just as legitimately available as these two because they have to fight. So I’m saying either everyone deserves it or nobody deserves it right now. Someone has to stand out and yes, whoever. I want this opportunity to take him away from this sport forever.”
McGregor has been open about wanting a title shot on his return from a broken leg he sustained during UFC 264 last summer, although his target was Kamaru Usman.
“I think that’s the fight to fight,” McGregor said in April. “I think me vs Usman for the 170lb title for my comeback fight is the one I’m staring at right now. To be honest, I haven’t told anyone that yet. I only thought so in the last few days.”
With the lightweight situation so shattered, McGregor could change his mind on which division he fights in next.
The UFC has been pretty tight-lipped about their plans for McGregor, probably for exactly this reason. Love him or hate him, the Irishman is still the greatest attraction in sport and the promotion aims to maximize that potential.
UFC boss Dana White said he had “nothing” for McGregor in April and is waiting to see his progress post-injury.
“I have literally nothing for him right now, he’s not ready,” White said. “The whole landscape could change over the course of the summer. We’ll see when he’s ready to fight. And when the doctor gives him 100 percent clearance, we’ll look at possible opponents.”