The Notorious one is never out of the news, but for the first time in his career, there’s no obvious choice of who his next fight should be against.
During his uprising, he had a clear path to the featherweight title. He then wanted the lightweight title but ended up on a legendary detour against Nate Diaz, before securing his belt against Eddie Alvarez. With his name etched into the UFC history books, a money-making boxing match with Floyd Mayweather made perfect sense, before making a long-awaited MMA comeback in order to “get back his title” against Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Obviously, things didn’t pan out quite the way Conor had hoped against Khabib, meaning he’s now in a state of flux for the first time in his career.
He may want (or at least say he wants) a rematch with Khabib, but in truth, the Dagestani fighter was so dominant in the first match-up, it makes little sense to run it back.
This leaves the Irish fighter with a problem, though. With it hard to see Khabib losing his title any time soon, what can McGregor do to maintain or grow his fight legacy? Some have suggested a return to featherweight, but he would surely struggle to make weight for that division now.
Below, we run through Conor McGregor’s most likely options.
1) Donald Cerrone
A fight with UFC veteran Donald Cerrone had looked done and dusted a few months ago, before negotiations came to an impasse due to the fact that McGregor refused to be a co-main event, with the UFC insisting the main event of any PPV card must be a title bout.
After three consecutive losses in 2017, it looked as though Cowboy was coming to the end of his career. However, Cerrone has looked back to his best and is currently on a three-win streak and returned to the lightweight division for his last two bouts.
Cowboy desperately wants the money fight with McGregor in July, and it could make sense for both parties, with Conor also eager to get a much-needed win against a well-known opponent who holds numerous UFC records – including the one for the most wins of any fighter (23) and most finishes (16). A July fight would also see Cowboy share Jim Miller’s record of the most UFC bouts (32). Conor is a strong 1/2 favourite according to Oddschecker, for any potential match-up.
2) Nate Diaz
The other obvious fight for Conor is a third instalment of the trilogy against Nate Diaz.
The first two fights were scintillating as both fighters traded relentlessly.
Fighters need to be careful with such match-ups though, as they can only take so much damage.
This fight will surely happen, but it could well be saved for a retirement fight for Conor – which is starting to feel like an increasingly likely prospect in the near future as the Irishman ramps up his other business interests.
3) Tony Ferguson
With a view to another title shot in the future, a fight with another lightweight contender would be one of the most logical decisions for McGregor to make.
Tony Ferguson would fit that bill having been a perennial challenger in the division.
Bizarrely, Ferguson has never actually had a shot at the full title (although he has won the interim title) despite being on an 11-fight win streak extending back to 2012. This lack of a title shot though has largely been caused by his numerous injury problems. He’s even been lined up to fight Khabib on no less than three occasions, although each bout has had to be cancelled.
Of course, Ferguson’s well-documented mental health issues may delay any potential bout, although he has said he is back in negotiations with the UFC over a return.
4) Justin Gaethje
The other potential contender than McGregor could face is Justin Gaethje, who recorded has record back-to-back first-round KO’s over James Vick and Edson Barboza in his last two fights.He’s ranked at number five in the lightweight division and is an all-action fighter with 19 of his 22 career fights ending in TKOs or KO’s. Would be a good style match-up for Conor.