Connor McGregor’ s title shot

Frankie vs. McGregor and the Warranting of a Title Shot

Connor McGregor' s title shot

Connor McGregor’ s title shot

Take yourself back to 2008 and UFC 91 and you’ll find Randy Couture standing across the octagon from Brock Lesnar. Lesnar, a man who had only been actively training in MMA for about two years, held an MMA record of 2-1 and had one UFC win to his name. That win came through a dominant three round performance over Heath Herring, even if he didn’t manage to finish him.
Brock Lesnar would however go on to finish Couture in the first round of that title fight, attain UFC gold and become one of, if not arguably the biggest PPV draw that the UFC ever had. Yet did Lesnar, with a record of 1-1 in the UFC, deserve the title shot? No, probably not. But his name warranted it and in the end, when Lesnar broke UFC PPV records at UFC 100, completely justified it.
This brings us to Frankie Edgar, Connor McGregor and why deserving a title shot is not always enough to be granted one.
Everyone loves Frankie Edgar. Even the most diehard of Gray Maynard fans would surely agree. He has a never say die attitude that resonates with the most hardened of MMA fans. It also helps that he wins fights, a lot, and often in pretty spectacular fashion. Few enjoyed seeing BJ Penn brutally picked apart and finished in likely his final octagon appearance, but that’s exactly what happened when placed against Frankie. And in his most recent fight, Edgar dominated the inform Cub Swanson in pretty much every aspect of the fight, along with submitting him with just four seconds remaining.
Frankie is without doubt one of the best in the Featherweight division and after his win over Cub Swanson, myself, along with a hefty number of the MMA population believe he deserves the next shot and a rematch with Jose Aldo. I, however, don’t run the UFC. Nor do I have one particular Irishman under contract and working for me.
We have to go back all the way to the start of this article and the one and only Brock Lesnar to find someone who we could potentially compare to Connor McGregor. Not a comparison of size, fight styles or personality. The comparison comes from both men simply having It. They have that presence and star power that whether you like them or not, makes you wanna tune in whenever they step foot inside the octagon.
There is one significant difference between the two men, however. McGregor isn’t exactly an MMA or UFC newcomer like Lesnar was. Connor holds a 4-0 record in the UFC, three of those wins coming via finishes in the first round. His most recent win came against the highly ranked Dustin Poirier and it took The Notorious only two minutes to put him away.
Connor McGregor faces Dennis Siver next, a man ranked distinctly lower than Poirier and who only recently returned from a nine month drug suspension. There’s no two ways about it, this is both a drop in competition and extremely winnable fight for McGregor. Is this really the final opponent to grant Connor his No.1 contender spot?
And this is the issue that the UFC have. Both men want that next shot at Jose Aldo and both are extremely deserving of it. Yet one may earn it with a win over Cub Swanson, a fighter who was on a 6 fight win streak before that fight, and the other may earn it by beating Dennis Siver, a fighter with a UFC record of 12-5 and ranked 8th in the official UFC Featherweight rankings. I look at that and I’m starting to think that the guy from New Jersey deserves Aldo next. But is that who I, as a UFC fan, want to see face Aldo next? I’m not too sure.
My dilemma is that even though Frankie Edgar may deserve the title shot more, myself and so many others can’t help but really wanna see the Irishman and Brazilian go toe to toe next. Does McGregor deserve the title shot over Frankie? I don’t think so. Does that mean I want to see Frankie vs. Aldo over McGregor and Aldo? Nope, actually it doesn’t. And the UFC knows this.
Just as Walter White wasn’t just in the meth business but the empire business, the UFC isn’t just in the fight business. It’s also in entertainment business. And, most importantly of all, it is a business. And its business is selling seats and PPV numbers.
And the Fertitta brothers, Dana White, Joe Silva and co. know that they have the potential for big numbers and big big business with Aldo vs. McGregor. Many of us may believe that Frankie Edgar is deserving of the next title shot, yet when the lights go down and Connor McGregor approaches the octagon, flag in hand, minutes away from coming to blows with Aldo, will you not be watching? Yeah, didn’t think so.
Connor McGregor, through his wins, words, presence, fighting style, fan draw, nationality and all round persona, has without a doubt warranted the next Featherweight title fight. This is unless Dennis Siver decides to throw an almighty spanner in the UFC works and defeat McGregor on January 18th. The MMA Gods do have a way of delivering the most devastating of complications to UFC plans. And if he isn’t already, come early 2015, Frankie Edgar might be making the odd prayer or two.

Steve Lesley

Connor McGregor’ s title shot