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411 Fact or Fiction MMA: Did Conor McGregor Relinquish His Featherweight Title?

November 30, 2016 | Posted by Lorenzo Vasquez
Conor McGregor

Welcome back to another edition of 411 Fact or Fiction MMA! I’m your host, Lorenzo Vasquez III, and I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends. It’s my pleasure to bring you another edition of the fact and the fiction making the rounds in this ambiguous sport we call MMA. Before moving onto this week’s shenanigans, I’d like to say thank you to each one of you who voted and left comments last week. It is appreciated and encouraged. Last week, I stepped into the cage to dance with the “White Tiger”, Evan Zivin over subjects like Conor McGregor’s sabbatical and what the UFC will do, whether or not Michael “Venom” Page is ready for the next level of competition, and Demian Maia having to wait longer for a title shot in addition to more. Evan and I came out focused and determined, but unfortunate for Evan, he was more determined to get to that Thanksgiving plate and it allowed me to slip by and get the victory. Thank you, Evan, for your effort and contribution.

This week, Scott “Kuch” Kuczkowski makes his return against Alex Rella who is hoping to finally rack up a win under his belt. They will tangle over the claim Conor McGregor “relinquished” his featherweight title, whether Ryan Bader should move to another promotion, AKA and its injury prone program, and much more! It’s time to recover from all the gluttony that was Thanksgiving by laying back and getting ready for another round of, 411 Fact or Fiction MMA! Let’s her going…

TALE OF THE TAPE
RED CORNER
Scott “Kuch” Kuczkowski
Contributor, 411 MMA Zone
1-2-1

VS

BLUE CORNER
Alex “Little Mac” Rella
Contributor, 411 MMA Zone
0-4-0


There is no way Conor McGregor relinquished his featherweight championship title; there’s no way he’d do such a thing quietly and so easily.

Scott Kuczkowski: FACT I think this is going to be an interesting situation leading up to this card. McGregor pretty much blasted everyone who stood in his way in the division and then tooled Aldo to take the title. I know a ton of haters wanted to see him stripped of the title because he wasn’t defending it and instead chose to fight at Welterweight and then win the Lightweight title, but those claims are kind of ridiculous. Who was McGregor supposed to face? Edgar? Frankie couldn’t even make his fight with Aldo competitive. Who was next? The truth is that McGregor slayed all the monsters at 145 and moved on to bigger and better things. Should he still defend the 145-pound strap? Ideally, yes; but we all know he’s not going to sign up for fights that aren’t going to be money-makers. Now, there’s some discussion about whether or not McGregor should have that much say in who and when he fights, but the fact is that he’s the biggest star the UFC has and he’s able to call his own shots.

Now I’m reading that the UFC has made Jose Aldo the “champ”. Ridiculous. Whomever the UFC places the 145-pound title on will be a joke and is going to have to walk around with an asterisk after their name because they know they didn’t beat the real champ. And I’m sure McGregor is going to remind everyone of that every time he gets on the mic. The worst part about placing the belt on Aldo is that he couldn’t even last a minute with McGregor when they fought. The UFC has officially made this a shit show.

Alex Rella: FACT I really doubt he’s happy about this. He just made history and wants to use the two titles as leverage to get more money or even equity in the UFC. His accomplishment will always be historic and impressive, but he does lose some bargaining power if he’s only the champ of one weight class. Plus it has to hurt his pride. He’s been talking about becoming a two-division champ since he joined the UFC and now it’s gone only weeks after achieving it.

Even if Conor did willingly give up his title either because he knew he was holding the featherweight division hostage or because 145 is too rough of a cut anymore, I doubt McGregor will openly admit it. I fully expect him to publicly trash this no matter what, even if he was okay with it behind closed doors.


Grabbing another interim featherweight title out of the closet to give the winner of the now, UFC 206 main event, a featherweight scrap between Max Holloway and Anthony Pettis, makes absolutely no sense.

Scott Kuczkowski: FACT Look, Holloway is on a 9 fight winning streak, so there’s an argument that he deserves a title shot. Unfortunately for him, his last loss was to McGregor, and I don’t know anyone in the world who would favor him in a rematch. Anthony Pettis, on the other hand, is 1-1 as a Featherweight, so I’m immediately questioning why he’s even in the title discussion. I’d have a better time understanding Holloway and Frankie Edgar fighting for an interim title. Maybe even Holloway and Aldo, assuming Aldo has stopped crying that he was going to retire. To me, this just feels like the UFC taking the opportunity to screw over McGregor a little bit and turn something that wasn’t even a #1 contender bout into an interim title fight. While the UFC and the fans may have been upset McGregor wasn’t defending the title, they didn’t make the situation any better with these moves.

Alex Rella: FACT It’s just lazy and they think fans are dumb enough to be excited by the interim title fight. It would have been a great PPV, but they lost the light heavyweight title fight and now it’s just kinda average. I understand taking the title away from Conor. He’s gone 3 fights without defending his title and the division is going to get even more backed up the longer he waits to defend it. So that part makes sense, but why make this the interim title fight?

What would have kinda made sense would be to make this the official featherweight title fight and leave Jose Aldo as the interim champ. Now you’re going to have the same problem next year. Aldo has no interest in fighting either one of these guys (which is dumb because they’re both great fighters), so now he’s going to bitch and moan about how he only wants to fight McGregor. So now the official 145 champ won’t fight the interim champ next year. Nobody would have cared if Aldo was sitting on the sidelines pouting as the interim champ, but now he’ll hold the belt hostage too. It’s very dumb and shortsighted, but at least the actual fight between Pettis and Holloway will be a great one.


If Ryan Bader, who is now a free agent, wants to wear a gold belt in his MMA career he should definitely look hard at signing with Bellator or WSOF rather than resigning with the UFC.

Scott Kuczkowski: FACT Look, Ryan Bader is a good fighter and a great athlete, but he hasn’t been able to put it all together in the cage on a consistent basis. Plus, I have no faith whatsoever that he would be able to beat Cormier, Rumble, or Gustafsson, all of whom are ahead of him in the rankings. If Bader really wants to wear gold before his window closes, he should probably venture to WSOF and challenge David Branch (I’d favor Bader in that matchup). But if he’s looking to continue to make the most money, then he should probably stay with the UFC and just be happy to be a Top 5 Light Heavyweight.

Ryan Bader: FACT Absolutely, Ryan Bader should take a hard look at all the options available. He has legitimately established himself as one of the top 5 light heavyweights in the world in the past couple years. Bader is 33 and who knows how many years he has left in him, so he owes it to himself and his family to sign the best possible deal with whatever company offers it to him. I don’t know whether his desire to be champion will heavily weigh on this decision, but yea Bader would be the champ in any other company besides the UFC. He already beat Phil Davis over in Bellator and he would run through David Branch in WSOF. He’s been one of my favorite fighters since he debuted on TUF, so I hope he does take the time to look at all possible offers in regards to how much each company will pay him, how they’ll book him, and possible title opportunities as well.


SWITCH!

The UFC should have never given Kelvin Gastelum the opportunity to fight Tim Kennedy at UFC 206.

Alex Rella: FICTION I see nothing wrong with this matchmaking. They really don’t want to rebook Tim Kennedy again and Gastelum needs to prove himself to the company after shitting the bed at one of the biggest MMA shows of all time. It also makes sense when you look at the fight itself. Gastelum is done at welterweight but is undefeated at 185 with victories over Uriah Hall and Nate Marquardt. Kennedy is a top ten veteran, but he hasn’t fought in forever. So it’s a good test for both of them. Can Kennedy beat the younger fighter that has had some great moments and can Gastelum hang with the best at 185? I think the fight makes perfect sense overall.

Scott Kuczkowski: FACT Kelvin Gastelum should be fighting on the undercard until he can consistently get on the scale and make his contracted weight. If he’s on the undercard and he doesn’t make weight, his fight can be scrapped, he can get his walking papers, and the card will be unaffected (for the most part) by his departure. I’m actually surprised Gastelum is still under contract by the UFC; I was hoping they’d can his ass after he failed to hit the scales and fight Cerrone. I can only guess that the UFC is trying to keep Kennedy on the card and do him a solid in the process. Either way, Gastelum is a joke and he should thank his lucky stars that the UFC is giving him another chance in a main-card fight.


Considering their declining careers, a rematch between Anderson Silva and Vitor Belfort makes perfect sense at this time.

Alex Rella: FACT Sure why not, both guys are aging legends and on losing streaks. I’m not dying to see this fight, but I’m sure it would still sell out a huge arena in Brazil. Both guys should stop fighting elite middleweights at this point in their careers to avoid brain damage, so throwing them up against equally old fighters makes sense. The loser of this fight would also likely be done fighting. So yeah, they should make this fight, but I won’t be crying if the rematch never happens.

Scott Kuczkowski: FICTION I’m kind of torn over this one. While a fight between Belfort and Silva would be entertaining and would most certainly draw in Brazil, both guys are so far into the twilights of their respective careers that the bout would be fairly meaningless. What would a win for either fighter prove? That they can defeat a washed-up version of the other? Both Belfort and Silva have fallen off so much as of late that I’d prefer them to both call it quits and leave the fight game with some semblance of the dominance and dignity they brought to the cage in their primes. Both will be in the Hall of Fame, so there’s no need to see either one beaten up more than necessary.


The coaching staff at American Kickboxing Academy must start evaluating their MMA program; while, it is home to high caliber talent and MMA champions, the number of injuries out of their camps is alarming and negatively impacting the careers of their talent-rich fighters.

Alex Rella: FACT I’m not going to claim to know how they should fix anything, but their fighters keep getting hurt way too much. They definitely have to take a step back or maybe seek an outside opinion to see if there is anything they can do to switch things up. Think of all the big fights AKA fighters have had to miss over the years, that’s a lot of missed opportunities and a lot of money left on the table during their careers. It doesn’t hurt to reevaluate things a bit.

Scott Kuczkowski: FACT I’m saying fact on this, but I think there’s a bit more to discuss about this than just the hard training that AKA supposedly endorses. Yes, a lot of AKA fighters get injured somewhat regularly, but AKA also creates a lot of champions, so we have to wonder if they might actually be doing more things right than wrong. Maybe the techniques they employ are sound, but just need a little bit of refinement? Plus, while we hear a lot about fighters getting injured nowadays, that’s actually supposed to be preferable than the old days when guys would fight injured simply because they need the paycheck.

Still, though, where there is smoke, there is usually fire. And while Cain Velasquez may be the most breakable fighter in recent UFC history, he and the other fighters that seem to get injured during training should be a cause for concern. I don’t know what happens inside AKA and I doubt most readers do either, but whatever occurs seems to result in quite a few injuries. I don’t know that there is anything anyone outside of AKA can do about this situation, and I’m sure the coaching staff are sensitive to it, but they may be best served to bring in an outsider to evaluate their practices and see if things can be made safer.


So who won? Was Alex able to out wit Scott, or did Scott crush the opposition? You’ve got until midnight eastern on Saturday to vote, so make sure you make your voice heard!


And that’s it for today but, as always, we’ll be back next week with another contest! And please, be sure to vote!

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