UFC President Dana White has some specific thoughts on the futures of featherweight king Conor McGregor and welterweight champion Tyron Woodley, and it might not be exactly what either man had planned.
“I fully expect Conor to come back and defend his 145-pound title,” White told UFC.com. “I think that Nate [Diaz] feels his brother [Nick Diaz] should have the fight at 170, but Nick is not going to come back and fight for the title right away.
“There are other guys deserving of a title shot. Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson is going to fight for the 170-pound title and then we’ll see what happens with Nick and Nate.”
McGregor and Diaz will square off at 170 pounds in the UFC 202 headliner on Aug. 20. Thus far, McGregor has balked at outlining any plans beyond that bout, and that includes discussing a rematch with current interim 145-pound Jose Aldo to unify the featherweight belt.
“I haven’t really spoke about it to anyone about what’s next. Who knows what’s next?” McGregor said during a recent conference call. “Right now I’m [less than two weeks] away from a war and I’m ready for the war. So that’s all I’m thinking of right now. So let’s have this war.”
However, it appears that if the UFC boss gets his way, McGregor will make his first featherweight title defense sometime after his rematch with Diaz.
Meanwhile, White’s comments also reference the future of Woodley, who captured the welterweight crown with a first-round knockout of Robbie Lawler at UFC 201. In the aftermath, Woodley shot down a matchup with Thompson and said that he was seeking a bigger payday against a bigger-name opponent.
“Nick Diaz is a top 5 welterweight of all time in my eyes. Georges St. Pierre is the No. 1 welterweight in my eyes. If I’m an athlete in this division and I want to say I’m the best in the world, I feel like I should compete against those guys,” Woodley said at the post-fight press conference. “I don’t feel any obligation to go by the rankings. I want to go out there and I want to fight the money fights.”
Diaz only recently became eligible to return to the Octagon following an 18-month suspension for a positive marijuana test at UFC 183. St. Pierre, meanwhile, recently entered the USADA drug-testing pool in hopes of fighting in the UFC for the first time since November 2013.
Thompson has been far more active than either Diaz or St. Pierre, compiling a seven-fight winning streak that includes convincing triumphs over former No. 1 contender Rory MacDonald and ex-welterweight titlist Johny Hendricks.