Who’s Next for Conor McGregor?

Demetrious Johnson pennyless a record during UFC 216 on Saturday night, commanding Anderson Silva’s symbol of 10 uninterrupted pretension defenses by scoring a hypnotizing suplex-to-armbar finish of Ray Borg. That was an implausible approach to enter a record books, and it was a large understanding to some. The bigger understanding to everyone, though, was a categorical event, that pitted Kevin Lee opposite Tony Ferguson for a lightweight halt title, giving a leader a inside lane to face tangible champion Conor McGregor. It was a delicious setup solely … well, everybody knew it wasn’t that easy. McGregor, who was not in assemblage during a T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, has never disposed being dangled as a stakes, though he’ll be darned if he’s going to finish adult as anybody’s prize.

That’s one of a reasons Ferguson, after drumming out Lee around a third-round triangle choke, voiced himself a approach he did afterward. “Where we at, McNuggets?” he screamed into a microphone. “I’ll flog your ass. Defend or vacate!”

McNuggets? You could roughly design McGregor somewhere in his ocelot dress and Saskatchewan sealskin slippers, cackling during his 105-inch plasma when Ferguson came during him with that berth call-out. Yet a perspective struck a chord with McGregor’s critics: He possibly has to urge or vacate, that’s usually a approach it’s always been.

And it would be this time, too, if we were in any other universe though McGregor’s.

Fresh off his estimated nine-digit payday from his fighting incursion with Floyd Mayweather, McGregor doesn’t have to follow any loyal lines, nor reside by normal UFC proof of confronting a many apparent contender. UFC boss Dana White pronounced Saturday that he wants to book McGregor opposite Ferguson to harmonize a 155-pound title. That would, of course, be a neat approach to revive sequence in a UFC’s lightweight division, that has been in a holding settlement given McGregor’s feat over Eddie Alvarez final year. But White says a lot of stuff, and many of it is usually that—stuff.

The law is, McGregor has some options in front of him, and right now there are a handful of people in a raffle to quarrel him next—some with belts, some with large dollar signs, some with vendettas, some with all of a above. Forget about Dana or a rankings; it’s adult to a invincible Irishman to decide. Here’s a demeanour during who’s in a running, along with some odds.


Ton Ferguson raises his arm after violence Kevin Lee during UFC 216

Joshua Dahl/USA Today Sports

Tony Ferguson

On Saturday night, Tony Ferguson flog Kevin Lee, not usually to win an fabrication belt that he can provide as real, though to try to get McGregor’s attention. McGregor has been on his mind a lot. Ferguson pronounced on Monday he’ll follow McGregor around to any weight category and “fucking haunt his dreams” until they have a possibility to knuckle-up, that sounds flattering serious.

McGregor, of course, won a lightweight pretension in Nov 2016 during UFC 205, and has nonetheless to urge it. Instead, he boxed Mayweather, and in a routine became dirty rich—the kind of abounding that creates for a twisted perspective of a strange landscape that done him, MMA. It would mount to reason that while McGregor was out, a UFC would unearth his subsequent plea on his return. That’s what UFC 216 was set adult to do —at slightest that was a illusion in play.

The problem is that, for all of Ferguson’s credits, he’s still an different quantity —in a broader open eye, anyway, and that’s a large factor. Ferguson, who has won 10 loyal bouts and fights with equal tools determination, skill, and sadism, is like something dredged adult from a dim web. Those who wish to defend a meritocracy of a McGregor epoch won’t like to hear it, though Ferguson’s win streak—including his new doing of Lee—works opposite him for a quarrel with McGregor. As a dispersion cardio weird of a warrior with no domicile name appeal, he becomes high risk, low(ish) reward.

So, notwithstanding a setup being ideal from a UFC traditionalist’s view—that an halt titleholder fights a tangible titleholder, so prolonged as a tangible titleholder is accessible to do so—it’s usually as expected McGregor will demeanour elsewhere for his large return.

Odds Ferguson Gets a Fight: 4-1


Nate Diaz, whose face is bloody, raises his arms in jubilee of a UFC 216 victory

Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports

Nate Diaz

The odds-on favorite to win a McGregor sweepstakes is a same mean-mugger who’s already won a event twice before: Nate Diaz. The reasons Diaz is a front-runner for McGregor are flattering obvious. The initial quarrel (at UFC 196) went to Diaz, and a second quarrel (at UFC 202) pennyless PPV annals as fans tuned in to see how McGregor would respond. He responded well, defeating Diaz around a infancy preference in a ridiculously verbatim back-and-forth fistfight.

Now with that accidental quarrel carrying blown adult into one of MMA’s good rivalries, a trilogy becomes massive. Does it make sum sense? No. Will a MMA universe cry about it right adult until a touching of a gloves? Most certainly. Will people contend McGregor is ducking Ferguson? A thousand times, they will. Will everybody balance in anyway? Giddily—especially if a UFC decides to usually contend to ruin with it and creates Diaz-McGregor III for a lightweight title—seriously —just befuckingcause!

And besides, if we follow MMA during all, we know this to be true: There’s no time like a present. For years, a UFC wanted to put together a quarrel between Anderson Silva and Georges St-Pierre, and it never happened. It wanted Jon Jones and Cain Velasquez, nonetheless it never went down. It wanted Ronda Rousey and Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino, nonetheless Rousey began to remove and therefore all enterprise to see it diminished.

Should McGregor quarrel Ferguson and lose, a Diaz trilogy loses something, too. It loses a intensity to mangle a possess PPV record. If Diaz fights somebody else and loses, a quarrel with McGregor becomes inconceivable (so prolonged as McGregor’s on top). The timing isn’t good for Diaz-McGregor III where consequence is concerned, though it’s ideal in that there’s still violence for it.

Odds Diaz Gets a Fight: 2-1


Paulie Malignaggi raises his arms in jubilee of winning a European Union Welterweight pretension in 2015

Photo by Leigh Dawney/Getty Images

Paulie Malignaggi

Absurd, right? A late fighter who leapt behind into aptitude usually since of a ring event he had with McGregor during McGregor’s stay for a Mayweather fight? It’s reticent as ruin and a small gross. And yet, that’s kind of how a quarrel diversion works. It’s a choose-your-own-adventure, and right now McGregor is revelation people that page to spin to.

Perhaps it’s to Malignaggi’s preference that a ring event reached imaginary proportions during a Mayweather-McGregor lead-up, personification out like a diversion of write in how it was farfetched by any new anecdotist relaying a story. It went like this: Malignaggi felt like he was set adult when he was brought in to punch McGregor, and grew angry when cinema emerged revelation a biased story of McGregor carrying his approach in a sessions. After Malignaggi denied he was ever knocked down on Twitter, UFC boss Dana White put out a clip of … well, Malignaggi being knocked down. That serve pissed off Malignaggi and had him job for a recover of a whole ring session.

And let’s be clear: If a training fasten were expelled in a entirety, during this indicate it could be a possess PPV.

This is a quarrel that will expected never occur (especially in a cage), though you’ve got to admire Malignaggi’s diligence in perplexing to stir things up. He’s no dummy. McGregor attempted boxing, and mislaid opposite one of a all-time greats. Psychologically, he knows McGregor could be enticed to redeem himself in a fighting ring. Too random, we say? Nobody had contemplated Diaz and McGregor fighting until Diaz called out McGregor in Orlando after defeating Michael Johnson.

Just saying.

Odds Malignaggi Gets a Fight: 100-1


Max Holloway and Frankie Edgar

Max Holloway ; Frankie Edgar
Tom Szczerbowski/USA Today Sports; Adam Hunger/USA Today Sports

Max Holloway–Frankie Edgar Winner

A year before he bolted a division, McGregor won a featherweight pretension in Dec 2015 with no promises of a return. But in that case, after he done story by winning a second pretension during UFC 205, a UFC nude him of a 145-pound belt and gave it behind to Jose Aldo (whom he flog in 13 seconds). Max Holloway finished adult holding a belt from Aldo during UFC 212 around an considerable third-round TKO.

Now Holloway and Frankie Edgar are going to quarrel for a featherweight pretension during UFC 218 in December. Wouldn’t it usually take things full round if McGregor were to plea a leader of that quarrel for a belt that he never unequivocally coughed up?

For a span of 24 hours behind in 2015, Edgar believed that he would be confronting McGregor subsequent after a Irishman KO’d Aldo. Instead, McGregor done his approach to a lightweight multiplication to pursue that second belt. But a genuine story here is Holloway. He fought McGregor a small over 4 years ago in Boston, losing by decision. Since afterwards a 25-year-old has won 11 fights in a row, creation himself into one of a best pound-for-pound fighters in a game. Even McGregor has seemed impressed with Holloway’s resiliency, that of march bodes good for a rematch.

The problem is that McGregor would have to cut a ton of weight to make 145 pounds again. He looked awful on a scale a final integrate of times he fought during 145 pounds, and now that he’s grown a ambience for a costly finger dishes while sailing around on a yacht, a lapse would seem unlikely. But if Holloway wins in Dec and concluded to accommodate McGregor during 155?

Hmm.

Odds of Holloway/Edgar Winner Getting a Fight: 40-1


Tyron Woodley in a quarrel during UFC 209

Joe Camporeale/USA Today Sports

Tyron Woodley

McGregor and welterweight champion Tyron Woodley had a brief encounter while pity a label during UFC 205, and that done people anticipate a quarrel between a two. Given that McGregor’s career has been all about sharpening feats of greatness—from winning his initial pretension opposite Aldo, to winning a second belt opposite Eddie Alvarez, to finale adult in a ancestral fighting compare with Mayweather—a quarrel with Woodley would be a usually step that wouldn’t be laterally or backward. Talk about your swinging carrots.

Adding a third title to his collection though ever losing one is usually a attempt that gets McGregor’s blood going. That story is in play would assure a financial booty that McGregor will demand. And hey, he met Diaz during 170 pounds for both fights—he’s no foreigner to a division. Would he be an underdog? Big time. But being an loser didn’t keep him divided from cashing in opposite Mayweather.

Odds Woodley Gets a Fight: 35-1


MMA: UFC 209-Weigh Ins

Joe Camporeale/USA Today Sports

Georges St-Pierre

GSP keeps reiterating that, should he flog Michael Bisping in a few weeks during UFC 217 in New York for a middleweight title, he is contractually thankful to quarrel that division’s no. 1 contender, Robert Whittaker. That’s positively true, though of march that could all change if McGregor starts casting an eye in GSP’s direction. No agreement is mightier than McGregor’s energy to rip them up.

That’s if St-Pierre wins. If St-Pierre loses in a important conform and earnings to a welterweight multiplication that he ruled from 2007 to 2013 (before taking a break to revive his mental health), relating St-Pierre and McGregor could still turn a biggest PPV in UFC history. Before there was a McGregor, there was GSP offered out a Rogers Centre in Toronto and ruinous a UFC embankment record. Think a quarrel between GSP-McGregor wouldn’t make a new UFC owners dab divided their persperate with hundred-dollar bills?

Odds GSP Gets a Fight: 35-1


Boxing: Mayweather vs McGregor

Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports

Floyd Mayweather

The really thought of Mayweather and McGregor fighting a second time—whether it be in a fighting ring, or (as prolonged as we’re flinging ideas around) in a octagon—is adequate to wish to chuck an index finger down your throat and satisfy vomiting. One time was some-more than enough, for that was one of a oilier novelties a quarrel diversion has ever withstood.

Yet it’s not out of a doubt that one (or both) of a principals will coquette with this idea, earlier rather than later. In fact, McGregor has already dared Floyd to take off his boots and try himself in a reduction limited area of a cage, that would be a bad thought for a 40-year-old who’s never thrown a flog in his life.

Still, have we seen a approach these guys spend money? There’s a reason a taxman was looking for Mayweather, and it won’t be prolonged before McGregor starts saying a finish line in his possess career. If there’s one name that would lure McGregor out of all other scenarios, it’ll be his partner in fleecing, “Money” Mayweather.

Odds Mayweather Gets a Fight: 150-1

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