UFC President Dana White expects Conor McGregor to suffer his first UFC loss when he makes the move up to lightweight for a championship bout against Rafael dos Anjos at UFC 196 on March 5.
The Notorious will climb to lightweight for the first time since he claimed the Cage Warriors title in that division back in 2012, and White told At The Buzzer: "I don't see how he wins this fight."
Per Anton Tabuena of Bloody Elbow, White described Dos Anjos as "an animal," one who's beaten Anthony Pettis and Donald Cerrone in his last two fights, with the latter win coming via first-round TKO.
Contrary to White's claims, McGregor's move from the 145-pound division to 155 pounds means he'll be making only a 10-pound leap, not the 15 pounds he prescribed. Nevertheless, it's a substantial leap in any combat sport.
McGregor famously defeated former featherweight titleholder Jose Aldo in just 13 seconds at UFC 194 in December, furthering his claims of having decimated the 145-pound division.
However, in classic McGregor style, the Dublin native has spoken confidently of his chances against Dos Anjos in March. He recently took to his official Twitter account to state he once again plans to back up his words:
I put my money where my mouth was.— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) February 4, 2016
Now I put my money with my other money. https://t.co/NhCFOKOead
Mystic Mac has frequently been noted as an odd fit at featherweight, having to cut from 170 pounds for his previous fights in the UFC, but this bout won't require as grueling a drop in weight.
The concern in that regard is that while carrying more weight may allow for more power, the 10 extra pounds could feel unfamiliar to McGregor, and White feels Dos Anjos' comfort at lightweight will be telling.
There is the chance White is merely taking a different tack with promotion in the buildup to UFC 196, where his comments could help build suspense in installing McGregor as the firm underdog.
His prediction also falls shortly after claims arose that the UFC had hired Olympic gold medal-winning wrestler Jordan Burroughs as a coach for McGregor. However, MMA Junkie's John Morgan provided quotes from White, who denounced those rumours:
The heavy-hitting Aldo was expected to be the toughest test of McGregor's chin to date, but the shockingly short ending to their bout means Chad Mendes remains the Irishman's most difficult win in the UFC.
That could all change come March 5, and White appears to be lacing his bets on Dos Anjos under the impression the jump in division will see McGregor bite off more than even his mouth can chew.