UFC President Dana White joined UFC Tonight on FOX Sports 1 as their first guest of the new year earlier tonight to discuss a variety of topics including the return of Ronda Rousey (she will fight this year), Ryan Bader getting a title shot (all he has to do is get past a beast named ‘Rumble’ first) and Jon Jones (their relationship is better than ever – says Dana). The two biggest stories coming out of the interview though were him changing his thoughts on the futures of two of the UFC’s most talked about champions – Holly Holm and Conor McGregor.
When it came to a rematch between UFC women’s bantamweight champion Holly Holm and Ronda Rousey, White made it clear that Holm would have to wait until Rousey fully recovered before she’d be able to defend her title. However, White told UFC Tonight that Holm will now defend her title before she fights Rousey, who will be away from the cage for the first half of the year while she recovers from injuries and films major motion pictures. Holm and her camp had been lobbying for a fight before Rousey simply because the Albuquerque native loves to stay busy and hasn’t had more than a handful of months off between fights during her illustrious career.
White also reneged on his promise to never let Conor McGregor keep his featherweight title if he moved up to the lightweight division. White said that McGregor can indeed fight and defend both titles in both divisions since he’s so active.
Throughout history, it’s not uncommon for White to say one thing and end up changing his mind down the road. Part of this has to do with the promotion listening to the fans and the other has to do with fighters and their managers dealing with the cooler head of the company, Lorenzo Fertitta, when White doesn’t budge. All in all, the fighters getting what they want in the end when they deserve it, which in this situation both Holm and McGregor have certainly earned it, is never a bad thing.
In Holm’s case, a fighter should never be told to wait to defend their title no matter what the circumstance. This is totally against everything Dana has tried to instill in his champions over the years.
When it comes to McGregor, the ball is in his court at this point when it comes to demands due to his intense popularity and his ability to not only sell a fight but deliver in spectacular fashion time and time again. If he can ultimately become a defending 2-division champion, defending each belt twice a year would actually bump up the title defense rate in both divisions over the past 5 years. During his reign as featherweight champion under the UFC banner, Jose Aldo put his belt on the line just over 1.5 times a year on average. The lightweight belt has been defended even less over that period of time.
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