Owen Roddy, Conor McGregor’s striking coach believes the reason McGregor never defended either his UFC featherweight or lightweight titles is down to a lack of marketable names. Roddy had this to say on the matter:
“You know, and at the moment – he didn’t get to defend his featherweight belt because at the time there was nobody there for him to fight against, there just wasn’t the opponent there,” Roddy told Submission Radio earlier this week. “So, unfortunately, that’s why he had to give it up, you know what I mean? And that’s been the case at lightweight as well, there wasn’t the name to fight.”
“At the end of the day, Conor, he’s a superstar now, and he deserves the big, big paychecks that he’s garnered – obviously in his last boxing fight – he deserves these big paychecks, and there hasn’t been a big name in the UFC to match him.”
When McGregor destroyed Jose Aldo to lift the featherweight title, there were lucrative fights for him, the obvious rematch with Aldo or indeed Frankie Edgar. McGregor chose to chase UFC history and a 2nd simultaneous UFC title when he was supposed to fight Rafael Dos Anjos. The fight never happened due to injury to Dos Anjos, and McGregor fought and lost to Nate Diaz. The UFC let McGregor have the rematch with Diaz and then the history-making fight with Eddie Alvarez. At some point during those fights the UFC should, in my opinion, have made McGregor defend his title or strip him, they stripped him only after the Alvarez fight, they were much too lenient with him.
We had a similar situation with his newly won lightweight belt, he was allowed to fight Mayweather and hasn’t fought in the UFC since UFC 205 in November 2016, despite the likes of Khabib and Tony Ferguson being more than marketable and viable contenders. Financial considerations are obviously important to any fighter, but I don’t buy this as an excuse or a reason for McGregor not defending any of his titles, and to be honest when you are a champion you have obligations to defend it.
But if it is the reason then McGregor should have just vacated the belts and done his own thing. When and if McGregor does return I doubt it will be to fight Khabib or Ferguson, it will be for a fight with either Nate Diaz, GSP or dare I say it, Floyd Mayweather. Roddy’s comments do tell the story of what McGregor wants out of the rest of his career, and there is nothing wrong with that. If McGregor wants the biggest fights for the biggest purse then good luck to him, but having those aspirations and being a champion sometimes doesn’t work, and for me, throughout the title reigns of McGregor it plainly hasn’t.