Forget giving Conor McGregor or Georges St. Pierre any more title shots in extra weight classes. There’s another way to get gold on them.
Conor McGregor was supposed to fight for an interim welterweight title against Rafael dos Anjos at UFC 224. Let that sink in for a moment. The most notorious figure in MMA (pun fully intended) was going to be gifted a title shot in his first MMA bout since 2016, after a lengthy sabbatical that included a crossover to boxing for a fight with Floyd Mayweather.
The fight almost, sort of, makes sense, given that McGregor was, at one point, lined up to face RDA back when the Brazilian held lightweight gold. Business sense, at the very least, it would have made. Was it fair? Of course not. That’s not the point.
First off, lets stop pretending that the rules apply equally. In life, and in the UFC. What rules are we talking about here? In this case, that title shots and big fights are earned. That everyone is treated equally. Paul Daley was banned from the UFC years ago for throwing a cheap shot at the back of Josh Koschek’s head. Conor McGregor will not be for throwing a dolly through a bus window in an April attack against Khabib Nurmagomedov. Retaliatory for a skirmish earlier that week between Nurmagomedov’s crew and McGregor teammate Artem Lobov or not, it’s shocking to see the UFC throw up his hands and say “we’ll leave it to the courts” (especially after Dana White vented about the incident in the immediate aftermath).
Yet that’s what millions of dollars in revenue results in. McGregor moves the needle, as the million plus likes on his Instagram post about the UFC 224 bout underlines. Paul Daley does not, at least not to the same extent.
Not to single Daley out, mind you. Almost no one moves the needle the way Conor McGregor does.
Yet MMA purists will decry any unearned title shot for the Irish star (or anyone else, for that matter), and rightfully so. The lightweight division has yet to recover from McGregor’s mayhem, which saw him claim the title against Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205, then never defend it. Since then, you’ve had Tony Ferguson claim an interim title, then Nurmagomedov win the undisputed title without fighting Ferguson, or even a fighter in the top ten.
Yet McGregor is the money fight. He’s always the money fight. As is GSP. And gold, these days, seems to be a must for UFC PPVs. Aside from McGregor vs. Diaz I and II, what UFC PPV card has been headlined by a non-title fight in recent years?
Anderson Silva vs. Nick Diaz comes to mind. That was in 2015.
So a solution: bring back the Super Fight title. Award belts for super-fights, as one offs. Back in the day, the Super Fight title was something for UFC tournament winners to challenge for. Ken Shamrock and Royce Gracie fought to a draw for the inaugural superfight title, both Shamrock and Dan Severn would later hold the belt.
Once weight classes were brought into the UFC, however, the title was unified with the UFC heavyweight title when Mark Coleman defeated Severn at UFC 12. The year was 1997.
The title faded into history, but maybe it’s time to re-consider it. Even as little more than a trophy, it could give legitimacy to super-fights without holding up a division. RDA vs. McGregor could easily have been a super-fight title, rather than an interim title that would have been completely unnecessary with champ Tyron Woodley returning in just a few months.
Don’t even get us started on the legitimacy of an interim title fight between RDA and Colby Covington, which is a great fight that has no business being for a belt.
GSP vs. Nate Diaz, were it to happen? Another candidate for a Super Fight title. If boxing had the money title, or whatever that garish belt Floyd Mayweather won against Conor McGregor was called, then the UFC could surely get away with this.