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Conor McGregor: ‘Legitimizing the title’ takes priority over ‘money fights’

UFC 205 photos Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

GLASGOW - Although he alluded to all types of scenarios in terms of his next challenge, Conor McGregor seems determined to defend his lightweight title rather than contest another “money fight” the next time we see him in action.

John Kavanagh’s preference for a Nate Diaz trilogy fight was met by a lot of criticism from the MMA fan base, many of whom would like to see the Irishman challenge the winner of the UFC 216 interim title showdown between Tony Ferguson and Kevin Lee.

McGregor highlighted how important it was for him to defend his belt, insisting that he has heard the calls of fans to legitimize the title, and the sport of MMA.

“Look, I’ve got the UFC title to defend and that means something to me. I will defend that world title,” McGregor declared, speaking to Caroline Pearce at An Evening with Conor McGregor at the SEC Armadillo.

“Nathan (Nate Diaz) is there. He’s trying to come in here and make all of these demands. If he starts pricing himself out of an event, I probably will defend against the person who wins this interim belt…or someone along that line to legitimize it again.

“I’ve already gone from the highest of the high in terms of a money fight. Now the question I always get is about defending the belt and legitimizing the sport and the rankings.

“Maybe now it would be a good time for me to go and do that and shut that side up.”

As he did several times over the evening, “The Notorious” took aim at prominent matchups in the lightweight division – namely Tony Ferguson versus Khabib Nurmagomedov – which was pulled at the eleventh hour when the Russian was withdrawn due to weight cutting difficulties.

“Again, we’ll see what happens in the fight (next) week. I hope they make the walk. I’ve seen it so many times where they slip on the bleedin’ soap getting out of the bath,” he said.

“Honestly, I feel like in the Tony and Khabib fight, they were in a game of chicken of whose going to pull out first.”

McGregor feels like he has already had all of the money fights, and now thinks it’s time to legitimize the lightweight title.

“I’ve done the money fight. I’ve done the pinnacle of a money fight – I fought for the money belt – the WBC money belt it was called,” said McGregor, in reference to the Mayweather fight.

“In my head now, I’m very interested in seeing this fight this weekend and to see how the lightweight title picture pans out and to go in and correct that whole situation. That’s where my thoughts are.

“I also have history with Nate. It’s 1-1 and that has to happen. It will happen. The more I spend time away from it, I think I’ve already done all of the money fights. Now, to legitimize a title and to bring it back, I could potentially bring it back.

“That’s a little bit exciting for me. I’ll see how this whole title picture plays out and we’ll go from there.”

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