Before UFC 220, a press conference was held for the main event of UFC 222, Max Holloway vs. Frankie Edgar, and UFC 223, Tony Ferguson vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov. There is a clear champion between Holloway and Edgar, as Holloway is the undisputed featherweight champion. But, between Ferguson and Nurmagomedov, Ferguson is the interim lightweight champion as Conor McGregor is the undisputed champion, but he may not be for very long.
At the press conference, UFC President Dana White said that Ferguson and Nurmagomedov would be fighting for the undisputed lightweight belt. So that has to mean McGregor has been stripped? Well, not so fast. White refused to say McGregor has been stripped of his lightweight belt.
So what belt are Ferguson and Nurmagomedov fighting for?
Ferguson, like many fans, has absolutely no idea. Ferguson joined Ariel Helwani’s show The MMA Hour on January 22 to discuss what belt he is fighting for.
“We don’t know if we’re fighting for the real belt or not,” Ferguson said on The MMA Hour. “Dana White is telling us one thing on one [side] of the curtain and on the other side, he’s saying, ‘No, Conor McGregor is the champion. Go and do your homework.’ Am I not the champ or am I the champ? Do you want to hype me up or do you not want to hype me up for this fight?”
Ferguson made his UFC debut way back in 2011 and has since been on a mission to become the lightweight champ. However, he dealt with a ton of adversity along the way through injuries and opponents being injured. Ferguson, meanwhile, won the UFC interim lightweight belt back in October, after defeating Kevin Lee via triangle choke.
Since then, Ferguson has not fought as he was waiting for either Conor McGregor to fight for the undisputed belt or simply be announced as the undisputed champion so he could start defending the belt. Now, this is where it gets interesting.
McGregor, like many know, won the lightweight belt back in November of 2016 after he knocked out Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205. Since that fight, McGregor has not fought in the UFC and has been holding up the lightweight division in which Ferguson has been on a roll, winning 10 in a row and declaring himself the champion.
So if Ferguson believes he is the champ, and White said it is for the undisputed lightweight belt, that means McGregor has been stripped, but like mentioned earlier, White denied that. Nobody is entirely sure what belt Ferguson and Nurmagomedov are fighting for come UFC 223. On the UFC website, it lists the fight as the interim world lightweight championship. If that is indeed the case, why is the UFC refusing to say what belt it is for? It makes for an interesting couple of months between now and UFC 223, but regardless it should be a fun and very interesting fight between Ferguson and Nurmagomedov.