When Conor McGregor faces Rafael dos Anjos at UFC 197, he will attempt to add championship belt No. 2 to his trophy case.
While capturing lightweight gold is far from a foregone conclusion given dos Anjos’ recent track record, the “Notorious” Irishman is, in typical fashion, already dreaming bigger.
“I’m an active champion. I will fight in many weight divisions,” McGregor said during a press conference to promote UFC 197. “As it grows and all of this forms, I like the sound of that 170-pound title as well. I feel I can take down three gold belts. And I feel I can do it by the year’s end.”
The SBG Ireland representative made good on the first part of his plan by knocking out longtime featherweight king Jose Aldo in 13 seconds at UFC 194 this past December. After that fight, McGregor revealed plans to fight for the 155-pound belt while still maintaining his place atop the featherweight division.
Such a move is unprecedented in the UFC, but Dana White had no issues granting McGregor’s request, although it is unclear when the Dublin native will make his next 145-pound title defense.
“When everybody asked me why we’ll let Conor hold two belts when we’ve never done it before, it’s because Conor has kept his word on doing everything that he said he’d do,” the UFC president said. “He was a little late to the press conference today , but other than that, he’s kept his word on everything he said he would do since he set foot in here. He said he will fight four times a year. He really likes money. I believe he will do it.”
Prior to coming to the UFC, McGregor held titles in two weight classes in the European promotion Cage Warriors Fighting Championship. With that in mind, the 27-year-old felt that facing dos Anjos for the 155-pound championship was the right move to make for his first 2016 Octagon appearance.
“I chose this one because I came into this promotion as a two-weight world champion, and I always wanted to replicate that. That was the goal, continue to create history,” he said. “This man across from me has a title and nothing else but that. He is a free TV fighter, and he has nothing else to offer me except that gold belt. That was the simple decision.”
McGregor acknowledged a couple of other potential opponents -- Frankie Edgar and Nate Diaz -- while also pointing out the negatives involved with each. Edgar thought he was promised a featherweight title shot following his knockout of Chad Mendes at “The Ultimate Fighter 22” finale, while Diaz made an impassioned plea for a showdown with the Irishman after his victory over Michael Johnson at UFC on Fox 17.
It won’t happen right away, but McGregor said he expects to face both men eventually.
“There were many options. Frankie has a little bit of desperation about him. I don’t know. He went 0-2 in lightweight [title bouts], got the chance to fight for the featherweight title and got the head slapped off him and now he’s running around begging,” McGregor said. “It has the stink of desperation on it. I’m just going to leave him still for a while.
“I like the way Nate came in his last fight. The fight before he came in sloppy and really out of shape, whining and complaining about everything and then put on a performance like that,” he continued. “He went back to the bottom of the pile. But he came in this last fight in shape. He played the game a little bit more. I’ll give respect to that and we’ll see where it goes. I will go through every single one of them, make no mistake about it. Rafael is next. That’s it. More gold belts.”