CONOR McGregor has earned a vacation so it appears the reigning lightweight champion is taking advantage with an extended break from the sport.
McGregor announced at the UFC 205 post-fight press conference in November that he was going to sit out until at least May to await the birth of his first child with girlfriend Dee Devlin.
Now it appears that timeline for his return may have been pushed back even further according to UFC president Dana White, who told “FOX Sports Live” on Tuesday that McGregor may not return until the second half of 2017.
White addressed the situation while discussing McGregor’s celebration tour where he’s still hoisting two titles in the air wherever he goes despite the UFC reclaiming the featherweight title in his absence.
“That’s who Conor is, that’s how Conor is. Conor is the best. He’s got no fights, he’s taking 10 months off, he’s having a baby and everybody’s still talking about him,” White said. “He’s the best at it. Nobody’s better.”
If White’s timeline is correct that means McGregor wouldn’t potentially return until as late as September 2017 following his last fight at UFC 205 in November.
A 10-month absence for McGregor would be his longest break from action since he tore the ACL in his knee in his second UFC bout against Max Holloway and was forced to sit out 11 months until he returned the following year.
With McGregor taking time off and the featherweight division at a stand still, White says giving up the 145-pound title was the right move and now the weight class can move forward in his absence.
“Obviously the way this thing ended up playing out, Conor fought (Nate) Diaz twice and then Eddie Alvarez for the 155-pound title. It had been almost a year since it had been defended. So Jose Aldo becomes the champion, he was the interim champ and now we do the interim title for these two and the winner of this one will fight Jose Aldo,” White explained.
McGregor won the featherweight title with a 13-second knockout over Jose Aldo last December, but never actually defended the title while engaging in a pair of fights with Nate Diaz before winning the lightweight belt at UFC 205.
According to White, it was always McGregor’s call which title he decided to give up and ultimately he picked the featherweight belt.
“He picked the 145-pound belt and that was it,” White said. “I understand he’s upset about giving it up after he won it but that was always the deal. That was always the deal. It’s not like I just pulled this out of nowhere after the fight happened and said he was going to have to give up one of the belts. That was always the deal.”
As far as McGregor still claiming that he’s a two-weight world champion, White says there’s no argument from him on that matter. He says McGregor deserves the right to hold up those two titles because he did what no one had ever done before and that should be celebrated.
“You can’t take away the accomplishment. He accomplished that. He won two belts at the same time, he held them both at the same time,” White said. “Nobody’s ever done that. He’s the only one to ever do that in UFC history. Nobody beat him. He vacated (the title).
“So for him to still consider himself the champ — he can.”