A particularly raucous atmosphere added to the sense of occasion at the UFC 205 press conference at Madison Square Garden earlier this evening, and sure enough, shit properly kicked off on a number of occasions.
With Conor McGregor late and the world remaining round, Eddie Alvarez first had a go at Irish fans before storming off stage. McGregor's arrival drew an apoplectic Alvarez back out, and chairs were held aloft before McGregor was literally carried off stage by security, if only briefly.
The Crumlin man had stolen the absent Alvarez's UFC lightweight belt and placed it to the left (or to viewers, the right) of his own featherweight edition.
As cameras cut to a furious Alvarez ripping what he believed to be his belt back off the Irishman's side of the desk, it became apparent to some watching that he had instead unknowingly snatched McGregor's own featherweight belt, with his lightweight strap remaining to McGregor's left. Neither fighter nor Dana White appeared to notice that they had swapped championships amidst the handbags.
A reporter then put it to Alvarez:
Eddie, what's your reaction to Conor coming in and taking your belt, and also, are you aware that the belt that you took is actually Conor's?
But Alvarez, perhaps missing the second question due to the noise, seemed intent only on ripping McGregor and didn't acknowledge the issue. Some 20 minutes later, as the presser concluded, both fighters walked off stage with the other's belt thrown over their shoulders. You can watch a condensed version of how it all unfolded below:
The question, of course, is that with each man exiting from separate sides of the stage before re-emerging for their face-off, whether it would even be possible to amend the mix-up within the two-to-three-minute respite backstage.
It seems unlikely, particularly when nobody on the stage actually noticed it happening. This of course means that, unless somebody did spot it and the belts were swapped back in private after the face-offs, it would appear McGregor has indeed forfeited his featherweight belt while simultaneously becoming UFC lightweight champion.