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Morning Report: Dana White says Conor McGregor could ‘absolutely’ be stripped of title if he chooses September return

UFC 202 Press Conference

On Saturday, UFC interim lightweight champion Tony Ferguson teased on his Twitter account that he could be back soon. Now, we might know who he’ll be facing and though it sounds like it will be for the true lightweight title, it doesn’t sound like current 155-pound champion Conor McGregor will be involved.

Speaking on Sunday night’s FOX Sports 1 UFC Fight Night St. Louis post-fight show, UFC President Dana White said that McGregor does not have a definite timetable for return yet and is considering sitting out until September. If he does, White says the UFC would have to strip McGregor of the belt and are currently looking to book Ferguson vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov for the real title.

“Conor has said he’s thinking about coming back in September,” White said. “If he comes back in September, that’s almost two years - that can’t happen. It’s not fair to everybody else. Love Conor, respect Conor, love everything that he’s done for this company, everybody knows that, I say it all the time. The belt would have to move on.

“You do Khabib vs. Tony, we’re working on that fight now. If and when Conor comes back, he would get the first crack at the title.”

McGregor won the lightweight title on November 2016 at UFC 205 but hasn’t competed in MMA since then, taking 2017 off from MMA to spend time with his family and to box Floyd Mayweather Jr. in one of the most lucrative fights of all time.

Meanwhile, the UFC originally scheduled Ferguson vs. Nurmagomedov for the interim title at UFC 209 but Nurmagomedov was forced off the card due to a failed weight cut. Instead, Ferguson won the interim lightweight belt at UFC 216 with a third-round submission over Kevin Lee. Nurmagomedov rebounded by demolishing Edson Barboza at UFC 219 a few weeks ago, and since then, fans have been clamoring for the Ferguson-Nurmagomedov matchup that has thrice been denied them.

White did not confirm a date for the potential lightweight title clash but rumors have been circling online that the UFC is targeting UFC 223 in April.

Watch White’s interview on the FS1 post-fight show below.


MUST-READ STORIES

Results. Jeremy Stephens battered Doo Ho Choi at UFC St. Louis.

Results II. Sarah Kaufman had a successful return to Invicta, winning in the main event.

FOTN. Jeremy Stephens vs. Doo Ho Choi won Fight of the Night honors at UFC St. Louis.

Percent. Dana White calls Kamaru Usman’s post-fight comments “ridiculous.”

Farewell. Pat Healy announced his retirement from MMA after KO loss at ACB.


VIDEO STEW

And a pair of free fights.

New rankings report.

Everyone wants on the WWE train.

TMZ even getting Bas.


LISTEN UP

Luke Thomas. Immediate post-fight commentary from UFC St. Louis.

6th Round. Immediate post-fight reaction to UFC St. Louis.


SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE

Touching.

Ouch.

Usman’s statement about his post-fight comments.

He’s right.

Glad to hear it.

Sad.

Chiesa hinting at a fight.

Find what you love and let it kill you. #revengetour2018 #12weeks

A post shared by Michael Chiesa (@mikemav22) on

Perhaps this?

Don’t tease us like this.

Farewell.

Beef.

There’s a difference between confidence and irrationality.

Awesome fight highlights from the weekend.


FIGHT ANNOUNCEMENTS

Enrique Barzola (13-3-1) vs. Matt Bessette (22-7, 1 NC); UFC 220, Jan. 20.

Kairat Akhmetov (24-1) vs. Geje Eustaquio (9-6); ONE Championship, Jan. 26.

Luke Rockhold (16-3) vs. Yoel Romero (12-2); UFC 221, Feb. 11.

Patricky Freire (18-8) vs. Derek Campos (19-6); Bellator 194, Feb. 16.

Tim Williams (15-3) vs. Oskar Piechota (10-0-1); UFC Austin, Feb. 18.

Paul Felder (15-3) vs. Al Iaquinta (13-3-1); UFC 223, April 7.


TODAY IN MMA HISTORY

2014: Luke Rockhold recorded his first UFC win, knocking out Costa Philippou with a body kick at UFC Fight Night 35.

2017: B.J. Penn returned to the octagon to be destroyed by Yair Rodriguez at UFC Fight Night 103. On the undercard, Aleksei Oleinik landed the first ever ezekiel choke in the UFC when he tapped out Viktor Pesta.


FINAL THOUGHTS

I hope y’all had a good weekend and enjoyed the fights last night. Featherweight is a fun division these days and both Elkins and Stephens looked super impressive. Crazy to think that they might rematch for a title shot this year.

We’ve got another fight week on our hands and this one is an underwhelming PPV that has a couple of very strong fights in the top spots. Plus, Bellator is putting forth a great effort that could arguably determine the best welterweight on the planet.

For those in the United States, have a good MLK Day. For everyone else, take it easy and see y’all tomorrow.


EXIT POLL

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If you find something you'd like to see in the Morning Report, hit me up on Twitter @JedKMeshew and let me know about it. Also follow MMAFighting on Instagram, add us on Snapchat at MMA-Fighting, and like us on Facebook.

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