It’s been a couple of weeks since ‘The Notorious’ Conor McGregor came out on top in a fight that’s consumed him for the past year. He appeared to be obsessed about the defeat to Nate Diaz in their first encounter and made it his mission to avenge his only loss in the UFC.
Now that the dust has settled on UFC 202 and he’s back on top, living the Mac Life, the question on everyone’s lips becomes… ‘What’s next for McGregor?’
This win opens up the door to a multitude of possible superfights and puts McGregor in a position of power, when it comes to getting the right match-up. What that match-up will be is anyone’s guess, however we’ve compiled a small list of some of the names that will be thrown into the mix and how likely we think each will be…
1. The Title Defence – McGregor v Aldo II
Obviously this fight makes sense from a purely ranking/meritocracy based model. Aldo lost his belt after a ten year unbeaten streak and definitely had a case for an immediate rematch but this wasn’t part of McGregor’s plans, so it didn’t happen.
It also makes sense to unify the belts and settle the score with Aldo once and for all. However we’ve heard many state that they’ve little interest in seeing McGregor fight Aldo for a second time, especially since the Irishman obliterated the long reigning former champion in 13 seconds.
However, Aldo has since gone on to dismantle the highly fancied Frankie Edgar in a 5 round masterclass at UFC 200, suggesting that what happened in the McGregor bout may have been a one off. The Brazilian was top of the pound-for-pound rankings and remained undefeated for over a decade before Conor connected with his chin.
He deserves another shot but maybe he should get through Max Holloway first.
Our likelihood rating: 7/10
2. The Two Weight Champion Fight – McGregor v Alvarez
Again this one makes a lot of sense. A superfight between the 145lb and 155lb champions would be absolutely huge. Also considering the fact that the UFC will be travelling to the Big Apple and Madison Square Garden (MSG) for the first time later this year, it could be the biggest fight they’ve ever had.
It might well be Conor’s best chance to capture that belt as well…
Alvarez is a good all rounder but he does take too many shots, and as seen in his fight with Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone, he can be picked apart on the feet; if you can defend the takedown and negate the forward pressure.
The rest of that division however seems like a nightmare for McGregor:
No. 1 contender Khabib Nurmagomedov is a devastatingly powerful wrestler and submission grappler.
No. 2 contender Rafael Dos Anjos always seemed like a bad match up as his Jiu-Jitsu is some of the best in the UFC.
No. 3 contender Tony Ferguson is a BJJ black belt who hits hard and never slows down. Again a mix of what, on paper, seems to play well with McGregor’s weaknesses.
For these reasons Alvarez may be the best match-up and a perfect fit for the main event of UFC 205.
Likelihood rating: 8/10
3. The Rubber Match – McGregor v Diaz III
This fight makes itself. Both hold a win over the other and both fights played out very differently, so it only makes sense to run it back again and see who can take the all important win in the 3rd fight.
As much as we all want to see this, it doesn’t appear to be part of the UFC’s plan just yet. They seem to want to separate the two for the time being and have them fight other opponents before they round off their trilogy.
It’s hard to argue with as they know that 3rd fight will always be there for them to cash in on whether the two win, lose or draw in their next endeavours.
From our point of view, it’s a special fight and needs the time away for everyone to get excited about it.
In the meantime, Diaz can sit out and rest with his newly made millions whilst McGregor takes at least one more big fight.
Likelihood rating: 3/10
4. The Legacy Fight – McGregor v GSP
With the Canadian market struggling since he left, the UFC are more desperate than ever to get GSP back in the Octagon.
However, George has said he will only come back for ‘big fights’, so if he doesn’t want to go straight to that 170lb title, there is no bigger fight on the UFC’s roster than McGregor v GSP.
The fight would likely break all sorts of records and could be taken to George’s home country to reinvigorate an immensely passionate market.
For McGregor, he would have the chance to challenge one of MMA’s all time pound-for-pound greats and put his name up there amongst the Anderson Silva’s and Jon Jones’ of the world by beating the man who many believe to be the greatest ever.
Issues between GSP’s management and the UFC seem to be stalling the process of the Canadian getting back into the Octagon but it looks like an inevitability at this point. Also with GSP recently stating that he could make it down to 155lb, a fight with Conor wouldn’t be so ludicrous. Whether it’s the next fight on Conor’s agenda is another matter.
Likelihood rating: 4/10
5. The Record Breaker – McGregor v Mayweather
Now bare with us for this one because it does seem rather farfetched at first glance.
We all went through the ringer the last time around with both parties hyping a fight which never came to be, but apparently that fight was much closer to being made than we may have thought.
Issues surrounding the split of the purse slowed negotiations and the UFC stepped in as it was all taking too long to get made.
So if this issue is able to be squared away, there really seems to be little stopping this fight going forward.
The UFC’s takeover recently may also help matters. A huge entertainment brand now running things may be more willing to negotiate with all parties and recognise that the light this fight would shine on the UFC would be brighter than anything it has previously experienced.
If your are McGregor or Mayweather this fight does little for your fight career and would likely end with a convincing Mayweather win (assuming it was boxing). However it would line the pockets better than any other fight in the history of either sport and would cement either fighter as one of the best combat sports athletes that has ever lived.
We’ve more hope than expectation that this fight will get made but for us it would be absolutely incredible event to witness, regardless of the outcome.
Likelihood rating: 1/10