It has been 15 months since we last saw “The Notorious” Conor McGregor (MMA record: 22-4) grace the UFC Octagon. What a return it was when he emphatically took out future hall of famer Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone (MMA Record: 36-14-0-1 NC) in 40 seconds by technical knockout (TKO).
Conor desperately needed that that win as it has been more than three years since he last earned a victory. Much of that time was spent dealing with legal issues, a venture into boxing against Floyd Mayweather, and the loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov. I will not go into detail about those, however.
McGregor was not the only one desperate for him to win though. The UFC benefits tremendously from his win as well. Which would also explain the match making in getting them to fight each other. This was an incredibly favourable match up for the Irishman, and he passed with flying colours.
Whether you love or hate him, things in the MMA world are just so much more exciting with Conor McGregor around and in winning form. The UFC has and endless amount of options for what to do next and everyone is itching to see him back again. He has mentioned several times during the lead up to UFC 246 that he has regained his passion and desire for competition, and how he would like to fight 3 times in 2020. Here are some potential matchups that the UFC can promote:
1. Khabib Nurmagomedov (MMA record: 28-0):
I am not suggesting that this is the most logical and best fight to make but it is one of the most likely. Dana White mentioned this at the UFC 246 post fight press conference that this has the potential to be the biggest fight in UFC and combat sport history. So does make sense from a revenue and global perspective as it will surely garner lots of attention and the most pay per view purchases.
The issue with this fight is for one Khabib and his manager Ali Abdelaziz have countlessly said that he refuses to fight Conor McGregor again. In the build up to that fight saw unparrelled disrespect that escalated to a post-fight brawl. For that he does not want to give Conor another opportunity to achieve greatness. Also pointing to the fact that Khabib had to win 10 fights in a row before he earned his title fight, so they want McGregor to do the same.
This would be from a technical perspective a terrible matchup, however. Khabib dominated the fight and only lost one round before finishing the fight in the fourth round by rear naked choke submission. There is little reason to believe that Conor has improved in the grappling aspect that a second fight would look any different or favourable for him.
2. Tony Ferguson (MMA Record: 26-3):
Tony Ferguson is challenging Khabib for the Lightweight title fight in April and does have the skillset to win. Considering that the UFC wants McGregor to reclaim his Lightweight title this is a potential match up rather than setting up an immediate rematch with Khabib should Tony win.
Another important fact is that this is the fifth time that the UFC is trying to match Ferguson versus Khabib. There is a strong possibility that one of them pull out with an injury before the fight takes place. From there Conor can step in on short notice and cut the line of contenders including Justin Gaethje.
3. Jorge Masvidal (MMA record: 35-13):
Jorge Masvidal is arguably the biggest star in the UFC after McGregor. After not taking a fight in 2018, he came back in 2019 with one of the best career resurgence we have ever seen in the history of MMA. Going 3-0 in 2019 with three straight TKO/KO finishes, one of which being the knockout of year and arguable one of the greatest knockouts in history with a 5 second flying knee against Ben Askren. With those three performances, Masvidal is arguable the male fighter of the year in 2019, and comeback fighter of year in 2019.
With those his stock in popularity has skyrocketed and makes him one of the most popular fighter in the company currently. This match up will bring about a lot of interest. Coupled with the stylistic match up with both favouring the striking aspect this would be an exciting one.
In recent news Dana White has connected with Floyd Mayweather to do business together again and has publicly stated that it would involve Floyd fighting again. Conor and Floyd have traded barbs a few times on social media and in public interviews a few times since they originally fought. It is unclear if that is to keep the public interested or if it is a genuine disdain for one another. Floyd even posted a fight poster to his Instagram of him against Conor.
In addition to Floyd, many boxers including Manny Pacquiao have called out the Irishman. They see him as an easy target that comes with a big massive payday associated to McGregor’s popularity as he is technically not a boxer.
5. Nate Diaz (MMA record: 21-12):
Diaz is a fan favourite who has a long history with Conor McGregor. The two fought twice winning one a-piece. Diaz had won the first fight by rear naked choke submission where as Conor had won the second by majority decision. Both have been pining for a rubber match to cap off the trilogy. Seeing as how both fights are in the top five of best selling pay per views of all time there is surely interest from the fans to watch this. Both have shown interest to go at it one last time.
No matter what they decide to do moving forward it will surely be worth watching and garner the attention of media and fans alike. Whether you love him or hate him, the sport of MMA is much more exciting and entertaining with Conor McGregor back.