Conor McGregor is back ladies and gentlemen. After years of bad headlines and worse decisions, the UFC’s cash cow is back in the game. “The Notorious One” successfully returned last January to defeat UFC legend Donald Cerrone quickly in the first round. All of the excitement that leads up to the fight was well deserved. We haven’t seen McGregor in the octagon since his loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov. Before that, his last official win in the UFC came in 2016 when he captured the lightweight belt against Eddie Alvarez. Of course, there was the one-off boxing stint against Floyd Mayweather but that was more for money than anything else. The world was watching as McGregor made his return to the famed octagon.
The world also saw some of the most unorthodox, but devastating shoulder strikes in recent memory. The performance, regardless of how small the sample, showed exactly what fans and Dana White wanted to see. Conor McGregor has returned! One of the aspects that makes “The Notorious” Conor McGregor’s’ star shines so brightly isn’t always who he’s fighting, but who could be next. Here we get a chance to go over who is in line for the McGregor payday and what adds up to these possibilities.
Justin Gaethje (Top lightweight contender)
They don’t call Justin “The Highlight” for no reason. As he is no stranger to getting into wars inside the octagon. Justin has yet to let a single fight in the UFC be left up to the judges. He has stoppage wins over big names like Edson Barboza and Donald Cerrone. The knock against him fighting McGregor is that Gaethje’s only two losses have come against former victims of McGregor’s. Dana White needs to realize that this is the fight that needs to happen.
I don’t agree with Conor getting a Khabib rematch until he wins a few more fights. The win against the aging “Cowboy” Cerrone was impressive, but not a lightweight title shot impressive. Let’s say Khabib beats Tony Fergusson in April. For Conor to get his rematch, especially for the belt, I believe he needs a win over Gaethje to even be relevant in the title picture. A fight against Justin Gaethje is a true title eliminator fight. If this fight does happen, I’m fine with going on record as to predicting a fight of the year.
Does he fight the winner or the loser of Khabib vs Tony Ferguson in April? (Cash grab by the UFC)
This is the option that UFC boss Dana White likes. Get his biggest star a belt no matter what. The only questions about this can’t be answered until the two actually fight. If Khabib wins does Conor get his title rematch? Or does Conor have to go through Tony Ferguson first? But what if Tony wins? Does Conor get the shot over anybody else? Or does Conor even want this fight over the rematch with his bitter rival? I’d hate to put this energy out there, but what if either Khabib or Ferguson are forced to withdrawal from their bout, currently scheduled for the fifth time. Does Conor jump the line entirely and fight for the belt as soon as April?
Jorge Masvidal (BMF Champ)
Ok, before we get into this one, I want to go ahead and express my love for this “BMF” belt. In a sport trying so hard to find fighters that can become relevant in mainstream sports media, this belt may be the answer. A belt that can be centered around almost anything! An aging legend, a young up and comer that wants to fast track his path to the top, a top fighter returning from injury, literally any fighter can make a claim to being a “BMF”. I’ve heard a couple unwritten rules around the web that may factor into being eligible for the BMF Title. Fighters can never have a proven steroid history to compete with the BMF.
And for fighters that fight for the belt and lose they have to stay off social media till their next fight. Ok, that second rule may have been from Masvidal himself. Jorge wants this fight. He wants to shut McGregor up even more. I think this is the fight Conor should stay away from. It could just be the streak Masvidal is on, but he is looking in prime form. He set the record for the fastest knockout against Ben Askren by hitting him with a flying knee only five seconds into the contest. If a Welterweight title shot against Kamaru Usman doesn’t come for Masvidal, expect him to be campaigning for the McGregor bout.
Nate Diaz (Trilogy fight)
This one may be the least likely at the moment. My feeling off this trilogy fight is both men are keeping it in their back pockets for the future. McGregor wants to make his way back to the top. Unfortunately, Nate Diaz isn’t a part of the equation to get there. These two men have put on a pair of classic fights. The first featured the humbling of Conor McGregor as he was choked out in the second round.
The second bout was an absolute classic. Back and forth action for five rounds leading to a decision victory for McGregor. This fight will sell today, tomorrow, and for years to come to no matter where the two warriors may be at in their careers. I can see this trilogy finally concluding if Conor loses his next fight. It’s a big paycheck, a big fight, and a way to get momentum back in his favor after a loss.
Manny Pacquiao (Boxing Redemption?)
This one almost seems like just for fun. But this is the Conor McGregor effect after all. When the fans want to see it and the money is right anything can happen. A safe guess would be the Notorious One isn’t happy with the way his boxing debut went. What better way to clear it up than to fight a living boxing legend like Manny Pacquiao? I can see that fight selling really well and I can see it being competitive in Pacquiao’s older age. The question really is if Manny wants to risk a big payday against a fighter with as little true boxing experience like McGregor.
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