It’s been quite a while since we’ve seen Conor McGregor in the Octagon, but the bombastic Irishman still holds the lightweight belt. McGregor earned the belt by beating Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205 in New York City back in November of 2016. Despite not having fought in UFC since, he’s still the champ.

However, UFC president Dana White announced that the winner of the April 7 bout between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson will take McGregor’s belt. McGregor is currently the only fighter in the history of UFC to wear two belts simultaneously.

White said, “That’s exactly right. As soon as one punch is thrown, it’s on for the full title and it’s only fair. They’ve both worked their way up to No. 1 and No. 2. They deserve a shot.”

McGregor has yet to commit to a title defense fight, so UFC has made the decision to move on and award the lightweight belt to somebody else in the meantime. McGregor will surely be afforded the opportunity to win back the lightweight belt whenever he chooses to make his return. Most top sports betting sites believe McGregor will make his return in a rematch against Floyd Mayweather, but White is hopeful that he’ll come back sooner.

White said that he is optimistic that McGregor will make his return against the winner of the Nurmagomedov-Ferguson bout. He said, “Conor does want the belt, he does want to be the champion, but he doesn’t want to defend it. I’d love to see him fight the winner of Ferguson-Khabib next.”

With no firm commitment from McGregor, White and UFC say it’s in the best interests of the sport and of the sport’s fans to move on. White added, “This is good news for the fans. I always hear about, ‘What will you do if this guy leaves?’ This is a sport first. People leave, they’ve made their money and moved on. It happens.”

McGregor infamously banked over $100 million for his participation in a boxing match against Floyd Mayweather in 2017. McGregor lost, but he fared well enough to cause many to wonder whether a rematch could be in order. Rumors have indicated that if the two do decide on a rematch, it’ll take place in the Octagon instead of a boxing ring.

While White sounds fine with moving on from McGregor, he did admit that he believes the Irishman will make his way back to UFC at some point before too long. White said that McGregor, “will be back…and when he comes back, he will fight for the title.”

McGregor’s reluctance to commit caused Nurmagomedov’s manager, Ali Abdelaziz, to push for the upcoming fight to come with the reward of an undisputed lightweight title, rather than an interim tag. In an interview with the L.A. Times, Abdelaziz said, “McGregor will no longer be champion. He’s going to be stripped. 100 percent, the contract says that, and the UFC was on board, too.”

Ferguson and Khabib will duke it out at UFC 223 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn in early April.

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