Conor McGregor got exactly what he wanted.
McGregor, the reigning UFC featherweight champion, will hold on to that title while moving up to lightweight to challenge champion Rafael dos Anjos for his belt at UFC 197, the UFC announced Tuesday afternoon.
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The March 5 card at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas also features Holly Holm’s first defense of her UFC women’s bantamweight title against Miesha Tate.
After McGregor’s win over Jose Aldo at UFC 194 last month, he said he wanted to move up to lightweight to challenge for dos Anjos’ title. He also said he planned to keep his featherweight title and defend that as well.
The UFC has had a working policy for several years that if a champion were to change weight classes, he or she would have to vacate that title in pursuit of the next one.
Not McGregor, who happens to be the biggest star in the mixed martial arts right now. When you draw the type of eyeballs McGregor does — back-to-back record gates for UFC events, topping out at over $10 million for UFC 194 — certain concessions can be made.
McGregor knocked out Aldo in 13 seconds last month, the fastest finish to a championship fight in UFC history. Dos Anjos needed just 66 seconds to take apart Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone.
If McGregor (19-2, 7-0 UFC) were to defeat dos Anjos (25-7), he would become the first UFC fight to hold titles simultaneously in more than one division. He also would become just the third UFC fighter to win titles in two divisions, joining Randy Couture (heavyweight, light heavyweight) and B.J. Penn (lightweight, welterweight).