Roughly two weeks after making history in Madison Square Garden at UFC 205, Conor McGregor has seen his reign as a two-weight champion come to an end. According to an announcement from the UFC, McGregor has relinquished the featherweight strap, which he won at UFC 194 in December 2015 and never defended.
McGregor won't get the opportunity to attempt to defend both belts simultaneously. Instead, interim champion Jose Aldo, who McGregor defeated for the title initially, will be promoted to champion. A featherweight bout between top contenders Max Holloway and Anthony Pettis, which was thrust into the main event slot of UFC 206 because of an injury to Daniel Cormier, is now for the interim featherweight championship.
Whether McGregor relinquished the belt is a point of speculation. McGregor famously boasted that it would take an army to get one of the belts off him, and he has remained quiet on the subject since the announcement. His coach, John Kavanagh, made it clear during an appearance on the Red FM Breakfast show that the decision was the UFC's.
“For me personally, I was very disappointed with how they went about doing it,” Kavanagh said, via Severe MMA. “It was a very messy set of circumstances which led to doing it. They lost a main event [at UFC 206] and then they haphazardly threw together a new main event.
“They felt they had to make this for a title in order for it to sell, so they brought in another interim title that Jose Aldo already has and then bumped Jose Aldo up to the current undisputed champion. Which just seems ridiculous to me.
“Conor has only been 11 months since he won that title. There have been many, many examples of fighters waiting 15 months, 18 months before defending it. He’s 11 months and they stripped him of it.
“I thought it was very shortsighted by the UFC how they went about doing it.”
The decision has received scrutiny online from an audience baffled that the UFC would take away any of the luster that its biggest draw possesses. As historic and financially successful as UFC 205 was as McGregor pursued achieving history, watching the Irishman attempt to simultaneously defend both belts could have been also as lucrative.