As of today, Conor McGregor is the UFC's official lightweight champion, but that will not be the case come April 7.
UFC president Dana White confirmed to the Los Angeles Times that the promotion intends to strip McGregor, 29, of his 155-pound title the moment interim champion Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov step into the Octagon at UFC 223 on April 7 in Brooklyn.
The UFC announced that title fight in January but declined to say whether McGregor had been stripped. White has now made it clear that McGregor will no longer be a UFC champion on that date, provided Ferguson and Nurmagomedov remain healthy and make weight.
"As soon as one punch is thrown, it's on for the full title, and it's only fair," White told the Times. "They've both worked their way up to No. 1 and No. 2. They deserve a shot."
Once that happens, it will mark the second time the UFC has stripped McGregor of a title, without a single defense.
The Irish star claimed the UFC's featherweight title in late 2015, knocking out Jose Aldo in 13 seconds. He went on to become a two-weight UFC champion in late 2016, knocking out Eddie Alvarez for the lightweight title at UFC 205 in New York. The UFC stripped McGregor of his featherweight title shortly after.
McGregor (21-3) hasn't fought in MMA since the win over Alvarez. He fought Floyd Mayweather in a lucrative boxing match last August.
In the meantime, Ferguson (23-3) and Nurmagomedov (25-0) have set themselves apart in the UFC's stacked lightweight division. The two have been scheduled to fight multiple times in recent years, but each matchup has fallen through due to various circumstances.
"This is good news for the fans," White said. "I always hear about, 'What will you do if this guy leaves?' ... This is a sport first. People leave, they've made money and moved on. It happens."
White has repeatedly stated there is no guarantee McGregor ever will fight again. McGregor seemed to respond to that claim in a social media post last week, in which he stated, "I am fighting again. Period."
ESPN ranks McGregor the No. 9 pound-for-pound fighter in the world. He is the first athlete ever to hold two UFC titles simultaneously.