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Conor McGregor relinquishes UFC featherweight title

Conor McGregor holds up his title belts after he defeated Eddie Alvarez during a lightweight title mixed martial arts bout at UFC 205, early Sunday, Nov. 13, 2016, at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Julio Cortez/THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Newly crowned UFC lightweight champion (The Notorious) Conor McGregor has relinquished the featherweight title with rival Jose Aldo, taking over as 145-pound title-holder – a move that has ramifications for the revamped UFC 206 main event in Toronto.

In making the announcement, the UFC also confirmed that the slated marquee fight in Toronto between light-heavyweight champion Daniel (DC) Cormier and No. 1 contender Anthony (Rumble) Johnson had been scrapped due to an injury to Cormier.

The UFC 206 main event at the Air Canada Centre on Dec. 10 will now pit No. 3 featherweight contender Max (Blessed) Holloway against No. 6 Anthony (Showtime) Pettis with the winner earning the interim 145-pound title and a showdown with Aldo in 2017 to decide the undisputed championship.

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The UFC said McGregor had given up the featherweight title "to focus on" the 155-pound lightweight championship. That goes against the Irish fighter's repeated statements that he wanted to hold both belts. But it makes life easier for the UFC, which can now operate the two divisions independently.

McGregor (21-3-0) added the lightweight title to his collection when he dispatched Eddie Alvarez via second-round KO at UFC 205 on Nov. 12.

Aldo, dethroned as featherweight champion in December 2015 when he was knocked out by McGregor in 13 seconds, won the interim featherweight title at UFC 200 in July by earning a unanimous decision over former lightweight title-holder Frankie (The Answer) Edgar.

The 24-year-old Holloway (16-3-0) has won nine straight since losing a unanimous decision to McGregor in August 2013 in the Irish fighter's second fight in the UFC. He is bidding to become the first UFC champion from Hawaii since B.J. Penn.

Pettis, who once held the UFC and WEC lightweight titles, is looking to make his own mark by becoming only the fourth fighter (joining McGregor, Penn and Randy Couture) to win UFC championships in two weight classes.

The 29-year-old Pettis (19-5-0) dropped to featherweight earlier this year, by submitting Charles Oliveira in his 145-pound debut after three straight losses at lightweight.

The Toronto card has had its problems. Many fans had hoped the UFC's first show in Toronto since September 2013 might lure former welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre back into action. The 36-year-old from Montreal, who has been on hiatus since November 2013, said a deal could not be made in time.

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Former light-heavyweight champion Rashad Evans, meanwhile, was denied a license to fight in Toronto by the Ontario Athletic Commission, nixing a bout with Tim Kennedy for the second pay-per-view card in a row.

The UFC said Kennedy will now face middleweight Kelvin Gastelum, pending commission approval.

Johnson took to social media to wish Cormier well.

"I wish nothing but the best for DC and I hope you have a full recovery champ," he tweeted.

Cormier's response read: "Left a message for you on ur phone. I apologize. We Will get to rock and roll bruh. Once again my apologies. DC."

The December show will be the UFC's fifth in Toronto.

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