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Fightweets: Let Conor McGregor chase two championships

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Rafael dos Anjos vs. Donald Cerrone for the UFC lightweight title headlines one last loaded card in Orlando on Saturday night, a fitting end to MMA's wild 2015.

And yet, everything ties back to Conor McGregor. McGregor's 13-second knockout of Jose Aldo to claim the featherweight title at UFC 194 last weekend reverberated throughout the sport like Holly Holm's knockout of Ronda Rousey a month prior.

What's it all mean going forward for the players involved, players who could include dos Anjos or Cerrone? That's major subject of conversation in this week's edition of Fightweets.

Should McGregor be allowed to go after two titles?

@MMATakeover: Has Conor McGregor the power to move up to Lightweight without vacating the FW title?

We're about to find out. One of the new UFC featherweight champion's most intriguing traits is that we finally seem to have the mixed martial artist who is smart enough to grasp how much power he has, at the height of said power, and isn't afraid to use it. McGregor's fans are loyal to the fighter, not the letters U-F-C. In an alternate universe in which McGregor was legally free of contractual obligations, he could team up with a friendly local promoter, stage, say "EireFights 1" over in Dublin, and make a one-night killing without the big corporate machine taking a giant cut. And he knows it.

The $10.1M gate for UFC 194 wasn't just the biggest grossing MMA fight in Nevada history. It's also  the first to crack the Top 20 for all Nevada combat sports events, at No. 20. That might seem underwhelming at first glance, but this puts McGregor in the company of fights like Manny Pacquiao vs. Juan Manuel Marquez IV ($10.8M) and Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Ricky Hatton ($10.4M). The fact we've finally got an MMA fighter who is in the same conversation as Mayweather and Pacquiao, even if we're not talking Mayweather vs. Pacquiao money, is a pretty big deal in and of itself.

McGregor said he's not about to drop his featherweight title if he's going to pursue a lightweight title shot. UFC president Dana White indicated he'd vacate the title.

I side with McGregor, here, for purely sport-related reasons. For all the talk of champion vs. champion superfights over the years, we haven't seen one since Jan. 2009, when then-lightweight champ B.J. Penn went up in weight and challenged then-welterweight Georges St-Pierre. GSP won a one-sided rematch of a 2006 split decision.

It's rare the planets align in a manner which makes such fights feasible. It has to be convenient for timing, injury, and divisional scheme purposes. This time around, we have featherweight and lightweight title fights one week apart, which, presuming the winner of dos Anjos vs. Cerrone removes unscathed, means both champions would be aligned to fight again around the same time.

Does Frankie Edgar deserve a featherweight title shot? Of course he does. But the world's not going to come to an end if the 145 title is put on ice for a little while. McGregor's manager stated that the fighter wants to fight for the lightweight belt in the spring and the defend his featherweight belt in the summer. Guess what? If McGregor who won the featherweight title in December, defends it next in July or August, a seven- or eight-month wait between title fights would still make McGregor a more active featherweight champ than Aldo ever was. And don't forget Edgar had won just one of his past four fights when he jumped the line and featherweight and got a shot at Aldo. These things come and go in waves.

If McGregor, a huge featherweight, challenges for the lightweight title and loses, no harm. He was the guy going up in weight. If he wins, it's history, joining former PRIDE champ Dan Henderson as the only concurrent major two-weight class world titleholder in MMA. The benefits of letting McGregor keep his featherweight belt outweigh the negatives.

Whose loss was worse?

@ynneKrepmatS: Which was a worst end to a long title run, Silva's or Aldo's?

Man, what a pick ‘em this is. Sort of like asking "Which was worse for the Red Sox: Bill Buckner or Aaron Boone?"

Both Aldo's 13-second loss to McGregor last weekend and Silva's middleweight title losing KO at the hands of Chris Weidman at UFC 162 were embarrassing defeats in their own way.

Aldo's was tough because he had been on the receiving end of taunts and public disrespect from a man he thought he'd run through, and he got knocked out with the first punch of the fight. In Silva's case, he was taunted Weidman and mocked and dropped his hands and stuck his chin out and all but made a farce of his fight with Weidman right up until the challenger made him pay.

At the end of the day, Aldo simply lost a fight. Silva acted like an ass right up until the moment he got KOd and brought onto himself an ignominious end to the most decorated title reign in MMA history, That's your difference right here.

Immediate rematch for Aldo?

@_ameer1: Aldo rematch? Why does he not deserve it?

One on level, yes, of course, Jose Aldo Jr. absolutely deserves a rematch. He's the greatest sub-155 pound fighter in history. His nine successful UFC/WEC title defenses were just one short of Silva's Zuffa record. He had not lost in a decade before losing to McGregor. And he simply got tagged, which is something that can happen to anyone (see Velasquez, Cain vs. dos Santos, Junior). It's not like he got dominated for five rounds.

On the other hand, an immediate rematch is going to be a tough sell. Much of the public simply has McGregor-Aldo fatigue in the aftermath of UFC 194. The bout was out in the forefront for the better part of a year, teased once before it was finally delivered, and even had its own world press tour. It's going to be a very hard sell to get people to pony up $60 again for a fight which built up for an entire year and then played out in 13 seconds. (And it also doesn't help much the Aldo's never been very accessible. If you don't make the fans care about you either way, they're not going to clamor for you).

McGregor's got money options awaiting him in either a worthy featherweight contender in Edgar or the winner of RDA-Cerrone (and, no offense to RDA, who is a nice guy, but I think most of us are secretly rooting for the awesomeness that would be the buildup to the Irishman vs. the Cowboy). Aldo, for his part, is 14 months removed from his last victory in a fast-changing sport. The smartest option for Aldo at this point seems to be getting a non-title fight next to rebuild his confidence, then see how things shake out at 145 from there.

Mendes the gatekeeper?

@Christopher_kit: What's next for Chad Mendes - is he the new gatekeeper?

The night of his first-round knockout loss to Edgar, I would have answered an unequivocal yes. But McGregor knocking out Aldo changes things. Who knows how things are going to pan out over the next several months? Mendes would be wise to take a little time off after back-to-back TKO/KO losses and probably needs to victory a bit of a lower-ranked guy before he can get sold against the likes of McGregor/Aldo/Edgar again. But with Aldo, whom he lost to twice, off the throne, the door reopens for Mendes, even if it's only a crack.

RIZIN shine

@NosTheTwit: So which will be the better fight: Fedor/Singh or Sapp/Akebono?

Wow, what a question. Neither of these fights are going to make us forget Robbie Lawler vs. Rory MacDonald, you know? But if you're forcing me to pick one RIZIN New Year's Eve fight over the other, I mean, we've already seen Fedor Emlianenko vs. Handpicked Overmatched Foe more times than I care to count. Akebono vs. Bob Sapp 2 is going to be terrible, but it at least it has to be terrible in a must-watch way. It could turn out to be the most fun freak show fight since ... well, since this was a regular thing on New Year's Eve in Japan. I don't know if "better fight" is necessarily the correct phrase here, but I know which one has a better chance of being so bad it's good.

Hit the road, 'Reem?

@MatheusCostaMMA: Last fight on Reem's contract. 3-3 in last 6 fighters. 400k per fight. Is he loses... he could be fired?

If this was a year and a half ago, I would have said Overeem's departure was a no-brainer. In fact, if you remember when he fought Frank Mir at UFC 169, the disappointment in White's voice over the fact Overeem won, and thus couldn't be cut, was palpable.

This time around? Never forget we're living in the post-Tito Ortiz-Stephan Bonnar world. Overeem is a former Strikeforce heavyweight champion who has connections with Scott Coker. If Coker can get ratings out of previously retired fighters who look like two elderly gents squabbling over the last bowl of tapioca at an early bird senior buffet, imagine what he can do with a heavyweight with a worldwide fan following who still has some mileage left?

Win, lose, or draw against Junior dos Santos on Saturday night, The Reem is going to get paid.