There are many variables that go into deciding who gets a title shot and who doesn’t, and whether or not a fighter has earned it is sometimes irrelevant.
Tonight, featherweight champion Conor McGregor will face lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez in the UFC 205 main event in New York City. Middleweight contender Gegard Mousasi doesn’t think the brash Irishman deserved to fight for the 155-pound belt, but understands why he’s been given the opportunity.
McGregor has technically never fought as a lightweight in the UFC, but he has faced a lightweight fighter, Nate Diaz, twice in welterweight contests.
“The guy (McGregor), he went a division up high and gets a chance that he didn’t deserve. He lost one and the other one was an unimpressive win. You tell me, did he deserve to fight for the belt? But he’s getting the chance,” said Mousasi.
Mixed martial arts is a sport, but it is also a business driven by profits and entertainment value. McGregor certainly brings in both profits and entertainment.
“He has a big mouth and a country behind him,” said Mousasi. “Conor McGregor has Ireland behind him. People are always going to show up for his fights.”
Mousasi believes that title shots are given out to the most popular fighter rather than the most deserving, and he has a point. Dan Henderson fought Michael Bisping for the middleweight belt at UFC 204 in a fight that made no sense to Mousasi. Nick Diaz received a title shot coming off a loss and a suspension when he faced Georges St-Pierre at UFC 158, and there are other examples.
“A lot of circumstances (go into determining who gets a title shot): where you’re from, if you speak English. A lot of things have to do with whether you fight for the belt or not,” he said.
“It’s more of a popularity contest now.”