Conor McGregor's team reacts to news of interim lightweight title fight
Interim titles simply don't mean what they used to.
In more sensible times, interim belts were used to keep the title picture moving in weight divisions when the champion was ruled out for an extended period of time due to an injury.
But in 2017, it seems now more than ever that interim title fights are being set up as no more than a marketing ploy to inject a little bit of added interest to bouts.
This was easy to see from the UFC 206 debacle which saw the organisation scramble and panic as they rushed to put an interim title on the line for Max Holloway vs. Anthony Pettis when the light heavyweight title fight between Daniel Cormier and Anthony Johnson, originally slated as the event's headliner, fell by the wayside.
Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Tony Ferguson for the interim LW title on March 4 at UFC 209!!! pic.twitter.com/oJwvlDl4eX
— danawhite (@danawhite) January 13, 2017
That involved stripping Conor McGregor of his featherweight strap, promoting the then-interim champion Jose Aldo to the undisputed champion in the process, all in the hope that a struggling pay-per-view wouldn't flop entirely.
So we shouldn't be at all surprised to see the UFC simply slap the interim tag on a fight to ramp up interest levels, which is precisely why Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Tony Ferguson is for the interim iteration of Conor McGregor's lightweight belt, rather than just a title eliminator.
While there will be no complaints over the fact that we now get to witness one of the most highly anticipated bouts at 155lbs contested over five rounds rather than three, it seems a tad strange that an interim title is on the line considering the fact that 'The Notorious' only claimed the undisputed crown two months ago and has made it clear that he intends to return in late summer/early autumn.
McGregor hasn't directly responded to the news that the two top contenders at lightweight will battle it out for the interim 155lbs title but his teammates and head coach have not been so quiet, as they have questioned the frequency with which the UFC are now dishing out interim belts.
— Coach Kavanagh (@John_Kavanagh) January 13, 2017
— Artem Lobov (@RusHammerMMA) January 13, 2017
Leave his belts alone yous cunts. Time to retire again Conor. #thanksforthecheese
— Peter Queally (@peterqueally) January 13, 2017
Belts! Belts for everyone!! https://t.co/PtwECIX7s1
— Ben Forsyth (@_benforsyth) January 13, 2017