Dana White sat down with MMA Junkie’s John Morgan yesterday and dropped some fascinating nuggets, but the one that stood out the most involved Conor McGregor’s next move.
McGregor is set to compete in a boxing exhibition against Floyd Mayweather on August 26th, but according to White, he is eyeing a UFC return in December against Khabib Nurmagomedov in Russia. While it sounds huge and must see, there is a big chance it probably won’t happen.
The last time we saw Nurmagomedov was during the build up to UFC 209 in March prior to being forced to the hospital a day before the event and ultimately robbing the MMA world of the anticipated match up against Tony Ferguson. Nurmagomedov was feeling the love from the fans leading up to the fight and the UFC was finally willing to give Nurmagomedov much of the spotlight in their Embedded series. “The Eagle” was calling for a title shot since 2015, but an accumulation of injuries, which included two major knee surgeries that kept him on the shelf until late 2016. That’s when Nurmagomedov defeated Michael Johnson via submission at UFC 205 to secure the title shot. When finally presented the chance to fight for the UFC lightweight title, granted it was the interim title, the fight between the two contenders was canceled for the third time.
Nurmagomedov’s weight problems are out there for the world to see and an early 2016 interview with Bloody Elbow is where Nurmagomedov revealed that he cuts 37 lbs before a fight. He discussed the difficulty of cutting weight now that the IV ban is in place and revealed that he’s even contemplated moving up a weight class for the past five years, but decided against it due to the prospects of winning the lightweight title.
One might believe that the quick turnaround at UFC 209 would’ve benefitted Nurmagomedov in cutting down to 155 lbs, but it appeared to be the opposite. Are we to believe that Nurmagomedov can make the championship weight safely enough three months after his proposed return date sometime in September? Firstly “The Eagle” would have to defeat “El Cucuy.” There is no guarantee that he’ll even be healthy enough to make a quick turnaround for December.
McGregor might very well be interested in fighting Nurmagomedov given their bad blood, but the prospects of competing on Russian soil is likely what intrigues the “Notorious one” most. Given Dana White’s lack of conviction when asked by the LA Times if the UFC will head to Russia back in March, it’s hard to believe the UFC can pull it off in time for December. Then again, with Conor McGregor involved anything seems possible.
McGregor’s December opponent could be the winner between Nurmagomedov-Ferguson, but why not take on a higher named opponent like Nate Diaz or perhaps Georges St Pierre? It’s not in McGregor’s nature to take a step backwards and that’s what he’d be doing if he takes on a relatively lesser known name after competing against the biggest name in boxing.