Dana White: Conor McGregor Needs to Defend Title Soon or He May Be Stripped

Dana White says time is running short on Conor McGregor to defend his title or get stripped for inactivity.

The time for Conor McGregor to defend his lightweight championship is running out.

McGregor won the UFC lightweight title back in Nov. 2016 when he defeated former champion Eddie Alvarez by second round TKO but that was the last time the 29-year old Irishman stepped foot in the Octagon.

McGregor spent the majority of 2017 awaiting the birth of his first son and then preparing for his boxing match last August against Floyd Mayweather. Since then, McGregor has said he’s ready to get back to business in the UFC once the promotion agrees on a new contract that will pay him what he’s worth.

White sounded hopeful that he would reach an agreement with McGregor on a new deal but if the reigning lightweight champion isn’t ready to fight soon, the promotion may have to more forward to strip him of the title to allow the division to move forward in 2018.

“I don’t think Conor wants to fight until August but if he waits until August or September, that’s been about two years since the belt has been defended and that can’t happen,” White told Yahoo! Sports on Thursday.

“This is a game of time. Time is your enemy in this sport or any other sport. When you’re a professional athlete, time is your enemy and we can’t let this thing go on forever and not give other guys the opportunity. Tony Ferguson has been around for a long time and earned his dues. Khabib [Nurmagomedov] has earned his dues and the list goes on and on. So Conor has done very well, he’s made a lot of money, and if he decides he doesn’t want to fight again for another however long, that’s up to him, that’s his choice and his decision but the belt has to move on. So we’ve got to figure some stuff out here in the next couple months.”

White added an odd addition to that statement, however, by saying if McGregor is willing to fight by March that the UFC could move forward with an interim title fight between Ferguson and Nurmagomedov with the winner then facing the current lightweight champion later this year.

It’s not clear why McGregor would have to be ready to fight in March if he’s not actually going to compete but White seems to be on board for that plan if he can get the 29-year old Irishman to commit to a new deal.

“As long as Conor is willing to fight by March, we could do Khabib versus Tony and then the winner fights Conor for the title,” White said. “Or Conor doesn’t want to fight and wants to sit out until next fall and then we would have to make Khabib versus Tony for the title, not the interim title.”

While the two sides remain at odds currently, White is confident he’ll find a way to reach an agreement with McGregor just like they’ve always done in the past.

Of course, White can’t guarantee that McGregor will ever want to compete again if he’s happy sitting on the stack of cash he made for fighting Mayweather. That being said if McGregor wants to fight, White believes a deal can get done.

“Conor’s a very smart guy. He gets what happened in the Floyd [Mayweather] fight. Those are f–king unicorns, those kinds of fights and I’ve never been afraid to pay Conor McGregor money. Conor brings the money in,” White said. “We’ve laid out a really nice offer for him and he’s a smart kid, I think we’ll figure it out. I’ve always figured it out with him. I’ve always gotten a deal done with Conor McGregor.

“The question is does he have so much money that he doesn’t care anymore and doesn’t want to fight. That’s up to him. But in no way, shape or form am I asking him to come back and not make money cause he’s gonna make money.”

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Damon Martin is a veteran mixed martial arts journalist who has been covering the industry since 2003 with bylines on FOX Sports, CNN, Bleacher Report and numerous other outlets.