The move came after the promotion needed to make a new main event for UFC 206 following an injury to light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier. Now the new headline fight will feature an interim featherweight title bout between Max Holloway and Anthony Pettis with Jose Aldo now declared the new undisputed champion after McGregor gave up the belt.
UFC president Dana White cleared the air on Thursday by telling Yahoo Sports that it was actually McGregor's decision to give up the title after all.
“He’s misinformed,” White said about McGregor's coach. “Yeah, he doesn’t know all that has gone on, I guess. Do you think I just did this? This was Conor’s decision.”
White had previously warned McGregor that he would have to surrender one of the titles if he won the lightweight belt at UFC 205 and that's exactly what he did when the UFC needed to clear the logjam at 145 pounds in his absence.
McGregor won the featherweight title last December but then engaged in a pair of fights against Nate Diaz before knocking out Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205 to capture the lightweight gold.
While it had only been 11 months since McGregor defeated Aldo, he stated after his last win that he intended on taking some time off to await the birth of his first child in May. That means the featherweight belt would have been on the shelf for at least 18 months without being defended.
“I let Conor fight (Nate) Diaz and then I let him fight Diaz again. Then there was the whole 155-pound thing I let him do. But at the end of the day, him doing that tied up the division for a year. There’s a logjam there and a lot of guys were (angry),” White said.
“This was my way to fix the logjam. I wanted Aldo to fight Holloway for the belt, but he needed more time. So I looked at it and I said, well, it makes sense to make Aldo the champion and then have Holloway and Pettis fight for the interim title, and when Jose’s ready, barring any crazy injuries, the winner can fight him.”
White also addressed McGregor's move this week to get his boxing license in California with more states to follow in the near future.
Speculation was rampant that McGregor was moving towards a potential showdown with Floyd Mayweather in boxing by getting his license, but White just doesn't buy it.
“I have no idea what Conor is doing. Conor’s Conor. He does his thing. But he’s under contract to me,” White said. “Who knows with this guy? Who knows what he is up to. I just let Conor be Conor.
“And the other thing is, it’s fun to talk about this fight and what might happen, but what commission would let that fight happen? Really, think about that.”