Now that the Money Fight is over, fans and experts alike are asking what’s next for Conor McGregor.
Some say with the amount of money he made during his boxing debut, he might be lured to stay in the squared circle. McGregor also has received ‘intriguing offers’ to grapple against Demian Maia or race with Olympic great Michael Phelps , but these may be too far fetched options for the Irishman. Still, others insist that McGregor should return to the Octagon, where he still has plenty of unfinished business to take care of.
Most Viable Option
The last of those is perhaps the most viable option. After all, before crossing over to boxing, Conor McGregor was ( and still is ) an MMA fighter. McGregor is the UFC’s first and only concurrent two division weight champion. He is the promotion’s top PPV draw and undisputed cash cow. It would only be but fitting for him to return to the UFC and fight there next.
In November 2016, McGregor made history when he defeated Eddie Alvarez to become the promotion’s Lightweight King. Three fights earlier, McGregor became the undisputed UFC Featherweight champion with his 13 second annihilation of Jose Aldo. Yet despite winning two UFC world title belts, Conor McGregor has yet to make a single title defense.
Nate Diaz 1 & 2
After beating Aldo, McGregor’s next outing was a 170 pound fight with Nate Diaz at UFC 196. Unfortunately for McGregor, his hype train was halted during that fight. Diaz forced McGregor to tap out on a rear naked choke in round 2, thus ending the Irishman’s unbeaten run in the UFC.
The stubborn McGregor asked for a rematch and fought Diaz again five months later at UFC 202. It was during this fight where McGregor earned $3M, the biggest purse in the history of the UFC. He would go on to defeat Diaz in a five round war. But instead of going back to featherweight to defend his belt, McGregor decided that he would go for a second belt in his next bout.
And so he went on to challenge Eddie Alvarez for the 155 pound title at UFC 205. While the fight lasted much longer than his first title conquest over Aldo, McGregor lorded over Alvarez and made the Underground King look like an amateur in two rounds. McGregor knocked out Alvarez at the 3:04 mark of round 2.
With the victory, McGregor made history by becoming the first fighter to simultaneously hold two UFC belts. McGregor also became only the third fighter in UFC history to win world titles in two different weight classes, joining Hall of Famers B.J. Penn and Randy Couture.
What Weight Class?
So now if Conor McGregor returns to the UFC for his next bout, which fight should he take? Certainly, he has a lot of challengers waiting for him in both the featherweight and lightweight division. He can’t defend his two belts in one night. Something has to give. Which should it be for the Notorious King?
Common sense dictates that McGregor should defend the 155 pound title. For one, his last fight against Mayweather was at 154 pounds and making 155 would be easier ( if you call it easy ) than making 145 pounds. McGregor’s last UFC bout was at 155 and his previous two bouts before that were both at 170.
In short, McGregor’s not fought at featherweight since beating Aldo. With his body growing with his age, it may be prudent to stay at 155 and keep the lightweight belt instead of strutting up and down two weight classes.
There is a hoard of worthy challenger waiting for Conor McGregor at lightweight. If you take a look at the latest UFC rankings, three of the Top 5 ranked fighters are going to give Conor McGregor a rich payday.
On top of that list is a fight with #1 contender Khabib Nurmagomedov. Nurmagomedov is the unbeaten former combat sambo champion who’s been chasing the lightweight title for years. Injuries have hindered Khabib from getting a title fight. But if he’s healthy, he could be McGregor’s biggest threat at 155. And a big money fight could be waiting in Russia.
An equally appealing fight in the United States with Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje could also be tantalizing for McGregor. A fight with either could headline any UFC event and easily fill the T-Mobile Arena while raking in millions of PPV buys in the United States.
Ferguson is currently on a nine fight winning streak, the longest in the history of the UFC’s lightweight division. Currently ranked #2, El Cucuy was booked to fight Khabib twice recently but both bouts were scrapped because of injuries ( first Ferguson, then Khabib ). Like Khabib, Ferguson poses as a threat and would be an interesting opponent for McGregor.
Gaethje is the unbeaten former WSOF lightweight champion whose knockout of Michael Johnson during his UFC debut created plenty of stir. Gaethje’s back and forth brawl with Johnson during the TUF 25 Finale even caught McGregor’s attention. Known for his ‘crazy’ style of fighting, Gaethje possesses the personality and fighting style to make a fight with Conor McGregor interesting.
Justin Gaethje has been talking about Conor McGregor during interviews but has not formally challenged the Notorious One yet. A striking contest between the two could be fun to watch though although it may not yet be in the wishlist of UFC President Dana White. The ‘Highlight’ is currently ranked 5th in the UFC’s lightweight rankings.
Completing The Trilogy
But there’s another fight that UFC fans are salivating about. It’s the third fight between Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz. Diaz currently sits at #6 in the UFC lightweight rankings but he could easily bypass the five fighters ranked higher than him because he has the storyline that none of them have. McGregor and Diaz own a win over each other and it would be but fitting for their rivalry to end in a grudge match.
McGregor didn’t talk about his immediate future plans after the Mayweather fight although he recently talked about fighting Nate Diaz in a third bout:
McGregor’s manager Audie Attar told reporters after the Money Fight that McGregor wants the Diaz trilogy although Khabib, Ferguson and Kevin Lee are options that McGregor is also looking at. A perfect scenario would be this: Khabib and Ferguson settling their score first ( they need to finally fight, really ) in the co-main event. McGregor completes trilogy with Nate Diaz in main event. The winners fight each other next. Wouldn’t that be awesome?
World On His Feet
Anyone can think of their own perfect scenario for Conor McGregor but ultimately, what happens next is up to Conor McGregor himself. Some believe that with the money he made in the Mayweather fight, he will be in no rush to fight again. Not especially since Junior is growing up fast.
But McGregor by nature is a competitor. He loves to fight and he loves the attention. He loves the adulation of millions and he loves to be in the limelight. Most of all, he loves money like Floyd Mayweather Jr. does. Surely, there won’t be a sequel to that Money Fight. Money Mayweather is set for life with win number 50. But for Conor McGregor, the world is literally on his feet. Picking his next fight won’t be easy. But that’s a good problem to have, really.
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