Do you know who Conor McGregor is? Silly me, of course you do! And if you don’t, well then, you’ll have to let me know what it’s like to be living under a rock.

For those needing a refresher course, McGregor is one of Europe’s top prospects and made a name for himself while competing in the Cage Warriors Fighting Championship promotion. It was in Cage Warriors FC that McGregor won both the featherweight and lightweight titles. Not only did he hold titles in two different weight classes, he won them in back-to-back fights. McGregor has ran his MMA record to 13-2 with 13 finishes. Even his losses came before the final bell. In short, McGregor is an exciting fighter.

He knows that and so too does the UFC. McGregor was awarded “Knockout of the Night” honors in his UFC debut this past April. The win validated some of the hype surrounding McGregor and perhaps even created more of it. With his star power continuing to rise, you’d think McGregor would be placed on the main card somewhere on a UFC Fight Night card or even a pay-per-view. Instead, the exciting Irishman is fighting on the prelim section of UFC Fight Night 26.

Is the UFC making a mistake by not taking advantage of all the hype?

First, let’s look at who is actually on the main card at UFC Fight Night 26.

Kicking off the night is Joe Lauzon vs. Michael Johnson. Obviously, Lauzon is guaranteed excitement and is fighting in his backyard, so the UFC won’t consider demoting his bout.

The evening’s second fight is a middleweight match-up between TUF star Uriah Hall and John Howard, who will be making his return to the Octagon. Howard, a Boston native, is on quite a roll lately, but he is fighting for the first time in the UFC since dropping three straight to end his previous Octagon tenure, and although Hall is a star based on his time with TUF, he is coming off a loss and perhaps would be more suited to a prelim fight that has less pressure. However, Howard’s campaign to return for the Boston event has elevated the profile of this bout.

Matt Brown and Mike Pyle are both riding quite a bit of momentum coming into their contests and should provide an exciting fight. They aren’t the biggest names in the MMA world, but it’s hard to say two fighters on five- and four-fight winning streaks, respectively, deserve to be on the prelims.

The last fight prior to the main attractions is a bantamweight contest between Urijah Faber and Yuri Alcantara. I get that Faber is a big star, but that’s not the case when it comes to his opponent. In a fight that’s expected to be so one-sided, is there a need to have it on the main card? Fans already know Faber is the best fighter at 135 pounds not named Dominick Cruz or Renan Barao. We also know he’s nearly guaranteed to win any non-title contest.

The UFC Fight Night 26 card is set up to put on a good show for both hardcore and casual fans, but it could be better served by adding the McGregor vs. Max Holloway fight to its main-card lineup. Both fighters are exciting and could prove to be future stars in the division. After all, McGregor is only 25 and Holloway is only 21. What likely forces this fight to stay on the prelims is that Holloway is coming off a loss, though a split-decision defeat can hardly be considered a damaging loss.

It’s understandable that the UFC wants to bring its touted prospect along slowly, but with a (likely) Irish-heavy crowd at UFC Fight Night 26, it may be a marketing opportunity lost for the promotion. Ultimately, however, it may be for the best that the UFC didn’t put the Irishman on the main card. He already has quite a bit of hype and, in a division that’s lacking credible contenders, the UFC may look to utilize the “slow burn” method of bringing him up the rankings. Some fans may complain if some of the main card bouts turn out to be lackluster, but they definitely won’t be complaining about the chance to see an exciting match-up of prospects on free TV.

Photo: Conor McGregor (Dolly Crew/Cage Warriors)

About The Author

Kyle Symes
Staff Writer

Kyle is a recent graduate of Aurora University, where he obtained a Bachelor's in Communications. Kyle resides in Illinois, just outside of Chicago. He played baseball and football in both high school and college, but is now focusing on an amateur MMA career.