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29th Nov 2016

Conor McGregor’s first tweet after losing his featherweight belt clears absolutely nothing up

He is playing a smart game here

Patrick McCarry

Let the UFC do all the explaining on this one.

Conor McGregor has kept a relatively low profile on the whole featherweight belt-stripping imbroglio.

The fact that he stated he would be out of the picture until May 2017 and started talking lightweight title defences after UFC 205, indicated his priorities lay with the 155 lb division. However, even if he were to defend the 145 lb belt first, it would not be until May or June of next year – around 18 months after he beat Jose Aldo at UFC 194.

What McGregor’s camp may argue is that he often said, on the record, that he would have no problem remaining active in the two divisions, as well as taking welterweight [170 lb] fights.

The UFC need to sell pay-per-views, however, and for that they need champions. They are diluting that notion somewhat by creating too many interim champions but one can see their logic in requesting the featherweight belt from The Notorious.

It is a decision, though, that has pleased few and angered multitudes. Even UFC light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier is taking online flak from McGregor fans as, some attest, the injury that forced him out of the UFC 206 main event set off a chain of events that cost McGregor his belt.

The Dubliner has played the latest events wisely. Often prolific on social media, McGregor has restricted himself to three updates to his Twitter account:

At the valet with Dee Devlin and looking serene. There are no belts getting buffed and shined here though.

McGregor is being wise here, in that his silence will make the UFC squirm. John Anik announced, on Saturday night, that McGregor had “relinquished” his belt but his camp have reportedly told MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani that the move was something they certainly did not agree to. Helwani declared:

“[Conor] is telling you, by not saying anything, that he is very upset. The why and the how were the big mistake in which [the UFC] did it, in my opinion. They needed to get Conor on board, they needed to fly to Dublin and needed to give him the respect.”

McGregor openly called for a meeting with the UFC’s new owner Ari Emanuel after his lightweight title win over Eddie Alvarez. That meeting has yet to transpire but the promotion has deigned to strip their fighter of his featherweight belt.

It is surely only a matter of time before McGregor addresses the matter but, right now, he is playing a blinder.

Catch up with this week’s episode of Football Friday Live: