Conor McGregor’s Next Move in the UFC

With Conor McGregor’s cryptic instagram post on “something big coming” earlier today and Mayweather Promotions securing the MGM Grand Garden Arena for August 26th, it appears McGregor’s intention of competing twice in 2017 could come to fruition.  Rather than focus on the bizarre MMA champion vs boxing champion match up being discussed, I find it more interesting to brainstorm on the Notorious One’ s next move in the octagon.

With the interim UFC lightweight championship bout between Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov scrapped because Nurmagomedov was deemed unfit to compete by medical officials due to a tough weight cut, both men are yet to be scheduled for a fight.  Ferguson declined to compete at UFC 209 against a short notice opponent who appeared to be Michael Johnson, a man who holds a win over him.  Ferguson has since tried baiting Nate Diaz into a fight and initially Diaz stated in May that he accepted the fight for UFC 213 next month, but then changed his mind soon after.  Ferguson has tried hard to bait McGregor into a verbal battle via social media, but has been ignored.  Ferguson on the other hand  ignored pleas from Edson Barboza to compete in an interim title fight since Nurmagomedov stated he’d be out of action until at least September due to Ramadan, which ends late June.

Should McGregor return to MMA competition later this year why would he want to fight Nurmagomedov or Ferguson?  Those two names didn’t provide him much interest back in late January in a sit down interview with Ariel Helwani.  Despite his dismissal of their respective skill sets, a fight between Ferguson and McGregor or Nurmagomedov and McGregor would make for a great fight, but why would McGregor defend his title when he is in obvious control of his next move?  Why not go after the third coveted world title at welterweight?

The seeds of a Tyron Woodley vs Conor McGregor fight were planted days before McGregor defeated Eddie Alvarez for the UFC Lightweight title at UFC 205 seven months ago.  Should Woodley remain champion when he fights Demian Maia later this year, it’s obvious he’d be willing to jump at a shot at the big money fight he’s been craving since he won the title off Robbie Lawler at UFC 201.  Woodley has shown that he is beatable in his previous bouts with Wonderboy Thompson at UFC 205 and UFC 209.  Woodley, while not a draw is in possession of the championship McGregor already had his hands on.

With GSP’s intentions of becoming a two weight class champion and perhaps a three time weight class champion, McGregor has the chance to be placed in a class of his own.  Speaking of GSP, his next fight is unknown after Dana White shot down the proposed Bisping-GSP UFC Middlweight title bout for November.  GSP told Ariel Helwani he’d like to fight in Madison Square Garden since MMA was legalized in New York last year.  A GSP-McGregor fight at lightweight, welterweight or some sort of catchweight would make for big money and rightfully so.  How else could the UFC top their introduction to the Garden last November than to have the old guard take on the new guard of MMA?  GSP appeared to be connected to McGregor since his loss at UFC 196 in which he was in attendance.

Speaking of UFC 196, McGregor was able to redeem his loss to Nate Diaz at UFC 202, but has openly stated his intention to fight Diaz for a third time.  This time at lightweight.  Diaz has been inactive since the loss to McGregor nearly a year ago.  Diaz hasn’t been shy in demanding the money he made in each of his two fights with McGregor in order to step back into the octagon.  The only way we see Diaz back in the octagon is if McGregor will be standing opposite in the cage.  The UFC has one hell of a fight in  their back pocket and despite the headaches that come along with it, would be willing to pull the trigger.

We’ve seen seeds being planted for multiple opponents over the course of a year and McGregor has stated multiple times that he loves options, but Nurmagomedov’s inability to stay healthy only hurt his chances at the sweepstakes.  Ferguson would be a nice touch, but he doesn’t have much to offer other than a tough challenge.  Woodley has a tall task ahead of him in Demian Maia and is still hoping for a fight against GSP or Nick Diaz so a lot of things have to go right in order for him to get his hands on Conor.  Diaz will continue to be a thorn in the UFC’s side as long as he is signed with the company so they might as well schedule the rubber match sooner or later.  GSP is currently at odds with the UFC, but it’s likely they’ll go through with the Bisping fight considering they already had a press conference for the proposed fight.  It’s a safe bet that Diaz vs McGregor is next, especially since McGregor is very familiar with his foe.  Preparing for a 12-round boxing exhibition match against Floyd Mayweather would mean his gas tank should be at its best, which is what is needed against someone like Nate.  Either way his next move will be an entertaining one, something that has been sorely needed by the UFC in the year 2017.

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