Welterweight contender Stephen Thompson thinks UFC featherweight and lightweight champion Conor McGregor is too small to pursue the 170-pound belt.
In the wake of UFC 205, many combat sports fans are wondering if there’s anything featherweight and lightweight champion Conor McGregor can't do. Now with two belts in McGregor's possession, speculation has turned towards a potential pursuit of a third title at welterweight, something McGregor himself alluded to days before the historic Madison Square Garden card.
McGregor and welterweight champion Tyron Woodley had their fair share of run-ins before UFC 205, fueling thoughts of a bout between the two. The result of the welterweight title fight, however, might have delayed pursuit of 170-pound gold for McGregor. Woodley retained the welterweight strap in a majority draw, but challenger Stephen Thompson still believes he is the No. 1 contender and the rightful next challenger for the belt, and he questions whether McGregor could contend at 170 pounds, given his size.
"To be honest with you, I think the UFC knows that I deserve that title shot, that I deserve that rematch," Thompson told Submission Radio. "And you know what, I think that Conor McGregor’s gotta defend the 145 and the 155 title and I just think he’s too small for the 170 division. I mean, he’s walking around right at 170, maybe a little bit less. I don’t think it would be a good division for him to step up to.”
McGregor hasn’t been feuding with Woodley at press conferences, weigh-ins and on Twitter for nothing; he likely did so with a potential fight in mind.
“I think it’s very smart, very intelligent for him," Thompson conceded. "I mean, he’s already out there talking trash to Tyron and doing his thing, doing what Conor McGregor does. I mean, just think about it—a few years ago, he was living in his car, he had no money. Now he’s a multi-millionaire. Hats off to that guy. I’m happy for that guy. A lot of people look down on people who are successful, but Conor McGregor is successful because he runs his mouth and he knows how to put on a show. I mean, look at his press conferences. I mean, come on. People show up just to see him just act nuts. Hats off to that guy, he’s a very intelligent, very smart guy.”
Pundits could argue that McGregor's style compares favorably to that of Thompson, an opponent that presented the champion trouble. McGregor also has his fair share of supporters, including former UFC middleweight champion Luke Rockhold, who believes McGregor has a shot at 170 pounds.
“I think it’s an intriguing matchup, no doubt. We’ll see what comes and how they make that. [McGregor] is still dangerous. He’s dangerous to that division too," Rockhold told Submission Radio. "If anybody can strike that well, and it seems like his power can translate over divisions pretty well. I think Tyron is not the biggest guy at 170. Obviously he’s proven to have some trouble in the striking realm with a guy like Wonderboy, so McGregor’s gonna be in the same realm.”
Meanwhile, Thomspon, McGregor and even contender Demian Maia all are awaiting the UFC's decision on the next challenge for the champion, Woodley.