CONOR MCGREGOR winning the UFC lightweight title would 'devalue' the belt, according to the promotion's former commentator Dan Hardy.
The Notorious is within touching distance of a third crack at the 155lb strap, which he was stripped of in April 2018.
Victory in his eagerly-anticipated trilogy fight with Dustin Poirier would put McGregor on course to fight the winner of Sunday morning's vacant lightweight title fight between Charles Oliveira and Michael Chandler.
But Hardy reckons the Irishman's potential reclaiming of the title – as well as Poirier and Justin Gaethje's – would be delegitimised by the fact he was emphatically beaten by the belt's previous owner, Khabib Nurmagomedov.
During an appearance on Submission Radio, he said: "The only way that this belt cannot be immediately devalued, is by having someone win it that’s not lost to Khabib.
"That's why we’ve got Oliveira against Chandler – neither one of those guys have lost to Khabib [Nurmagomedov].
"So the fans don’t have that picture in their mind of the new lightweight champion getting strangled and dominated by the former retired great.
"If you put that belt over McGregor’s shoulder or Poirier’s waist or Gatheje’s waist at this point, everyone sees the same thing; they just see Khabib dominating them and that belt’s not worth as much.”
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McGregor's rubber match with Poirier will take place on July 10 and will serve as the main event of UFC 264 in Las Vegas.
The former two-division champion suffered a brutal second-round KO loss to The Diamond in their rematch in January.
New fan favourite Chandler is hoping Mystic Mac will get back in the win column, telling TMZ: "I want to see Conor come back, man.
"There's nothing better than when a guy as big as Conor McGregor falls short, loses and then is able to pull himself back up and win. That's a huge story, it's a huge storyline.
"Obviously the athlete in me wants to fight the winner of it. The businessman wants to fight Conor, of course.
"But all of it hinges on me having a phenomenal performance on May 15.
"So we take care of business and then we go there on July 10, enjoy a weekend in Vegas and see who my next opponent is.
"But either way, that's going to be a good fight and I will be there for sure."
McGregor, 32, is relishing his Sin City series decider with Poirier and has promised to put on a career-best performance in the desert.
He tweeted:" July 10th I will do this absolutely flawlessly. We have these clowns sussed and fully!
"They wanna play a game of tactics? No problem, see you in there.
"You’ve awoken a beast. A beast with the backing of a much higher power!
"Say your prayers."
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