Whether you are a long time hard core MMA fanatic, or just a Conor McGregor fanboy, you’re probably wondering about one thing. When is Conor going to get a title shot? The correct answer is we don’t know, however we can make an educated guess based on the current landscape of the UFC’s 145 pound division. So lets take a look at all the pieces on the board, the movers and the shakers at featherweight.
First up is Jose Aldo, the Brazilian standing atop Mount Olympus, UFC featherweight champion, his only loss was back in 2005, he has never lost in the UFC. He carries an intimidating professional record of 25-1, is known for devastating power in the stand up department, underrated Jiu-Jitsu and impeccable take down defence. Most recently he defeated Chad Mendes for the second time, he’s the one everyone is gunning for.
We already know that Conor’s next fight wont be for the title, the Irishman is taking on Dennis Siver in Boston next January. Whether or not Aldo with have another fight booked before that is unknown. History tells us that he doesn’t fight very often, the UFC will probably take the wait and see approach. So who is Dennis Siver and why is he fighting McGregor?
The German is a long time veteran of the UFC lightweight division, he dropped to 145 pounds in 2012. Although he is coming off a win in his last fight, he hasn’t had much success lately. In the previous fight he tested positive for the banned substance human chorionic gonadotropin, before that, he lost to Cub Swanson. Essentially, he is supposed to lose this fight; he is the perfect man to raise McGregor’s profile. A win over him in the main event in Boston will solidify McGregor’s place as a house hold name in the US, and as a valid number one contender in the eyes of many. That being said, this is the fight game. It’s never easy to predict and Silver could ruin the McGregor show for everyone. His arsenal boasts a powerful array of spinning kicks and strong submissions. Although giving up height and reach, the muscular Siver will probably carry a strength advantage into the fight. Should Conor prevail, everyone expects the title shot to be his. Everyone that is, apart from these guys.
Two more featherweight behemoths are hoping to impress this Saturday night, they believe that they are the true top contenders, and they have a point. Frankie Edgar faces Cub Swanson at UFC fight night in Austin, Texas on November 22nd. They have both lost to Aldo in the past, Edgar more recently in the UFC, and Swanson back in 2009 in the WEC. Cub is on a six fight win streak including wins over Denis Silver and Conor’s last opponent Dustin Poirier. His is the loudest voice next to Conor’s in demanding a shot at UFC gold and he claims it has been promised to him with a win over Edgar. To put that in context, countless fighters have been assured of title shots in the past that did not materialize. The UFC title picture is amorphous, constantly changing and evolving, Cub may very well get the shot, but these promises guarantee nothing. When asked about Cub’s comments, McGregor responded, ‘I want to be there when they tell him, No, I’m sorry. Remember that promise we promised you where we looked you dead in the eyes? It was all lies.’
Of course there is another scenario, what if Frankie Edgar defeats Cub Swanson? Much of the attention has revolved around Swanson but he isn’t even the favourite coming into this bout. Frankie Edgar is the former UFC lightweight champion, he lost the belt in a very close and controversial decision, in a division in which he was undersized. His only loss at featherweight is to Jose Aldo and many expect his to outpoint Cub on Saturday. Although Edgar will call for another shot at the title, it is unlikely the UFC will give the fight to someone who fought Aldo relatively recently, especially in a stacked division. In short, an Edgar win is great news for McGregor fans, and for Ireland. A McGregor – Aldo title fight could take place in a stadium in Dublin if all things fall into place.
That leaves just one more player on the board, Ricardo Lamas. The American has also recently lost to Jose Aldo, but has since bounced back and snapped the vaunted seven fight win streak of Dennis Bermudez in impressive fashion with a first round submission victory. He has his own plan on how to break Irish hearts. The trash talking has already begun, with Lamas saying McGregor needs to face a wrestler like him before getting a shot at Aldo. If McGregor doesn’t get the next shot, Lamas is his likely opponent after Silver, and he will undoubtedly be the stiffest test of Conor’s career to date. For his part, McGregor was quick to respond to the call outs of Lamas. ‘he fought like a pussy against Jose. McGregor Incorporate does not reward pussies who run for 5 rounds.’
So it’s a complicated and ever-changing landscape of promises, lies and trash talk, but at the end of the day it’s all about racking up the W’s. If McGregor keeps winning, the title shot will come, probably in Summer or Autumn 2015. Ultimately the decision lies with Dana White and the Fertita brothers, the ones who move the pieces on the board.