Should Conor McGregor Continue to Fight in the Lightweight Division

By Derek Ferreira
Nov. 16, 2016

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

After taking a week off, I have a full docket for the MMA Take. It's all about the lightweights after Conor McGregor defeated Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205. Also, I'll get to Khabib Nurmagomedov lobbying to be the first contender for the lightweight championship. Then I'll talk about the ending of the welterweight fight at UFC 205, and my final thoughts on Jon Jones getting suspended.

Should Conor McGregor Stay at Lightweights: This is a tough question. I would like to see McGregor at lightweight; he's healthy at that weight, and there are interesting fights to take. But, the safe bet is to go back to featherweights, and that is the benefit of the doubt. Lightweight is such a great division, and the lightweights will get better. The division has Khabib Nurmagomedov (we'll talk about him in a bit), Tony Ferguson, Nate Diaz, and Rafael Dos Anjos. That's not to say that the featherweights have weaknesses; I'd pay big bucks to see Jose Aldo, Max Holloway, and Frankie Edgar take a fight against McGregor. However, McGregor's body of work is best suited to having advantages physically with his height, size, and his power over future opponents. I consider it likely that McGregor would go on this run in the featherweight division compared to what he would do in the lightweight division. Lightweight will always be there for McGregor if he runs through the featherweights or a major fight comes up. There is a major drawback if he fights in featherweights, as he has to cut weight, which is tough for him and could impact his body. But what's best for business is for him to stay as the top player in MMA, and the odds are more likely in the featherweights. Now, if McGregor does indeed stay in the lightweights, who does he fight next? When it comes to Ferguson, he is an underdog to get in the mix behind Diaz and Nurmagomedov. Ferguson had an impressive fight against dos Anjos, but he blew it in the post fight interview and seeing him fight for the lightweight title has blown my interest down the drain. Nurmagomedov, who had a great performance and post-fight interview on Saturday makes the most sense. Although Nurmagomedov doesn't have any notable wins, if he doesn't get a shot, let's make it a final fight between McGregor and Diaz, and that would draw big PPV numbers because the fight means something. Plus, Diaz beat McGregor the first time.

Tyron Woodley Draws With Stephen Thompson: Woodley vs. Thompson II has to happen. There's this silly thing in combat sports where a draw against a champion means you failed and should go back to fighting in a No. 1 contenders fight when in reality any champion should make their title defenses definitive. For example, barring a bad call on a judge or the promise of a fight waiting in the wings, the best thing to do is get a rematch. In this debate, Woodley vs. Thomspon II doesn't make big box office money as a Woodley vs. Maia. The only fight that Woodley should take is a fight with George St. Pierre or he calls out McGregor, in which we all know that's in fantasy land. Maia earned his dues, but Thomspon got a draw, which gives him another shot at the title.

Jon Jones Suspended Until July 2017: Let's not kid ourselves here since this will be the final time I talk about Jon Jones, at least until next summer. I've said that Jon Jones is the best light heavyweight in the world of combat sports. But this suspension is wasting what is a potential shot at being the greatest fighter in the UFC. When he returns, we know that he is going to be in the back of the line to get a title shot. First, he'll get a tune up fight, and even if he did fight Daniel Cormier, he would have lost. However, fighting in a tune-up fight is different. Jon Jones has to earn the respect of Dana White before he gets another title opportunity, and the first few fights he takes after his suspension will be key to earning that respect again.