UFC unsure how to handle McGregor’s undefended title

Nov 12, 2016; New York, NY, USA; Conor McGregor (blue gloves) celebrates with his two championship belts after defeating Eddie Alvarez (red gloves) in their lightweight title bout during UFC 205 at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Despite not having fought inside the Octagon since November 2016, Conor McGregor is still the UFC’s lightweight champion. Having been away from the cage for more than 12 months with no end to the absence in sight, McGregor may force the UFC to make a difficult decision in the future: allow him to remain champion, or strip him of his title.

“That’s what we have to figure out,” UFC president Dana White told the Associated Press when asked how much longer McGregor can keep his title without defending it.

With McGregor gone an extended period of time, the UFC has since crowned an interim champion in Tony Ferguson.

Stripping him of the lightweight crown would mark the second time McGregor would relinquish a UFC championship without having defended it. McGregor previously held the company’s featherweight championship, winning it in December 2015 in a 13-second knockout of then-titleholder Jose Aldo. He would move on to attempt to become the UFC’s first-ever simultaneous two-division champion three months later, ultimately settling for a blockbuster showdown with Nate Diaz after lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos pulled out of their scheduled contest with an injury. McGregor fought twice more in 2016, neither of which served as a defense of his 145-pound title.

McGregor went on to become the lightweight champion at UFC 205, holding two titles for several weeks before dropping the featherweight one without actually losing a fight. It’s unclear if McGregor was stripped of the featherweight title or he willingly vacated it, with the UFC elevating then-interim titleholder Aldo to undisputed champion last winter.

The Irish sensation was last seen in August, stepping into the boxing ring against Floyd Mayweather.

At time of publication, McGregor would likely need to defend his UFC title against Ferguson in his first fight back to the UFC.

White admitted earlier this week that he was unsure if McGregor would ever return to the UFC.

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