Dana White Open to Conor McGregor Pursuing Lawler's UFC Welterweight Title

Steven RondinaFeatured ColumnistMarch 3, 2016

LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 3:   UFC featherweight champion Conor McGregor speaks to the media during the UFC 196 Press Conference at David Copperfield Theater in the MGM Grand Hotel/Casino on March 3, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Brandon Magnus/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
Brandon Magnus/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

Conor McGregor still plans on taking home a second UFC title, but it seems like he may have lost interest in Rafael dos Anjos' lightweight belt. Instead, the Irish striker is looking up even further. At the UFC 196 pre-fight press conference on Thursday, there was a fair bit of discussion about a superfight between McGregor and UFC welterweight champion Robbie Lawler.

UFC President Dana White told the media in attendance (h/t Sherdog.com for the transcription):

I'm open to whatever he’s considering doing. If he wants to fight at 170 and he wants to fight Robbie Lawler, Conor is tough to deny these days. Nobody has ever done this, 145 pounds going to 170. And it’s one of those things where you talk about these guys when the money's in the bank, other things are going on and they have all this opportunity, Conor really does step up and fight anybody anywhere anytime. It's impressive, it’s fun and this is what makes you love the fight business.

Talk of a matchup between McGregor and Lawler has been swirling for a while now, with McGregor openly expressing his interest in holding the 170-pound title and Lawler seeming generally indifferent (h/t Bloody Elbow) to the discussion. What makes this particularly interesting, however, is White's reaction.

Lawler vs. McGregor may be in the works, and that could put the UFC into a tricky position.
Lawler vs. McGregor may be in the works, and that could put the UFC into a tricky position.John Locher/Associated Press

It's worth remembering that, just a few months ago, the UFC seemed to be completely opposed to the idea of McGregor challenging Dos Anjos for the lightweight title while still holding the UFC featherweight title. Following UFC 194, the UFC's plan was for McGregor to forfeit his 145-pound belt and move on to a title fight with Dos Anjos, opening things up for Frankie Edgar or Max Holloway to take the vacant title. McGregor, however, flatly refused to do so, just minutes after the company's declaration.

McGregor says if he goes up he is not vacating the 145 belt. "I will be a dual weight champion. The belts will be active because I am active

— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) December 13, 2015

If the UFC is indeed already planning for a McGregor vs. Lawler welterweight title fight, it represents a noticeable shift in both the company's matchmaking approach and the amount of power McGregor holds at this time. Not only that, but it leaves a number of contenders in all three divisions in a holding pattern, including welterweight Stephen Thompson, featherweight Frankie Edgar and lightweights Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson.

Interesting times lie ahead for fight fans. Tough times, however, may be looming for any title hopefuls between 145 and 170 pounds.