UFC Champ Conor McGregor Likely Won’t Make Octagon Return Until Late 2017

By Tristen Critchfield Dec 7, 2016

Conor McGregor already said he was going to take some time off. Now it might be a little bit more than originally anticipated.

After McGregor defeated Eddie Alvarez to capture the lightweight crown at UFC 205 on Nov. 12, the Dublin native said he expected to be out until at least May as he awaited the birth of his first child with girlfriend Dee Devlin. However, UFC President Dana White hinted that layoff could be even longer when discussing the current state of the featherweight division. It was announced last week that McGregor would relinquish the 145-pound belt he won at UFC 194, with Jose Aldo being promoted from interim to undisputed champion. Meanwhile the interim title will be on the line when Max Holloway and Anthony Pettis square off in the UFC 206 headliner on Saturday in Toronto.

“That belt hadn’t been defended in almost a year. And Conor’s taking another 10 months off for maternity. It’s not fair to the rest of the guys in the division,” White said on the UFC “Unfiltered” podcast. “Max Holloway’s on this incredible win streak..nine fights is three years. Pettis absolutely deserves a shot. And Jose Aldo just beat Frankie Edgar. You can’t tie up the entire division, but I did let him fight for it. You look at all the pros for the Eddie Alvarez-Conor fight, a lot of people picked Eddie Alvarez to win that fight.”

If White’s statement proves true, McGregor likely wouldn’t return to the Octagon until September at the earliest. Meanwhile, White denied that McGregor being forced to give up the featherweight title created conflict between he and star fighter.

“Everybody always thinks that there’s some type of animosity with me and Conor and there’s always something bad brewing. I don’t know how much more I can say publicly how much I respect the guy, how much different and special he is and everything else. All this stuff going on [with] ‘I stripped him of the title,’ I didn’t strip him of anything,” White said. “I said every day leading up to that fight he had to give up one of those belts...He gave up the 145-pound title.

“He says, ‘I’m still a two-weight champion.’ He’s damn right he is. He is a two-weight champion. It doesn’t take away what that guy accomplished and what he’s done. When you look at the 145-pound title, he didn’t lose it, he gave it up. He’s the man. He’s the guy.”

While McGregor appears headed for a lengthy time on the sidelines, the “Notorious” one was recently granted a boxing license by the California State Athletic Commission. That news accompanied the renewed war of words between McGregor and retired boxing champion Floyd Mayweather, although that fight actually happening -- in any combat sports arena -- remains a long shot at best.

“He’s not fighting Floyd Mayweather. Floyd Mayweather isn’t going to fight him. It’s not going to happen. If you look at the biggest fight anybody ever talked about was Manny Paquiao-Floyd Mayweather. Look how long it took to make that fight, and those guys are in the same sport,” White said. “I’m not taking anything away from Floyd. No matter what you’re doing, to go undefeated for 20 years, it’s a huge feat. But Floyd has been perfect fighting the right guys at the right time. He isn’t gonna get in there and mix it up with Conor.”

<h2>Fight Finder</h2>