Now that the fight fixing is over and the talk of MMA being a tougher sport than boxing is put to rest, let’s examine what exactly is the most logical next step for Conor McGregor. At this point I think there is a realization that Conor is no longer fighting for the money, but more so fighting for his legacy. Because of that there has to be consideration it is unlikely Conor fights someone that is a matchup nightmare for him, or that he would be a legitimate underdog against. So for starters, Khabib Nurmagomedov has been eliminated from this discussion.
Top 3 most likely next opponents for Conor McGregor:
Nate Diaz III
This fight makes sense for a few reasons. First, it’s the fight that has the most star power, money, and recognition outside of MMA behind it. In order to fully immerse the boxing fans into UFC, the UFC must make a fight with Conor and someone else who will not only fight aggressively, but also keep the fight standing. We know what we would get in a trilogy fight and for Conor’s legacy it’s important that he go 2-1 vs. Diaz.
Winner of Tony Ferguson vs. Kevin Lee
I should probably go a step further, I think Conor only fights Ferguson if he wins this fight, but not Lee if Lee wins. With that let’s assume that El Cucuy wins this fight and gets his rightful shot at McGregor. Personally I think this is a logical fight for Conor given El Cucuy’s tendency to stand with his opponents. While Ferguson is likely the more well rounded fighter, I would have to say McGregor would be the favorite in this matchup.
As unlikely as I think it is that Conor tries to cut to 145 and take on a very dangerous Holloway, I still think it is more likely than Conor ever agreeing to fight Khabib. There are other fights at 145 that Max should be preparing himself for, but these would obviously be put on the back burner if Conor agreed to a fight. Max also gave Conor a tough go in their first matchup so the UFC does have a storyline here.
J-Man’s Bold Prediction
The only fight that makes sense to me is a trilogy fight with Nate Diaz. I think it will be in Conor’s best interest to have this fight at 155, but that would mean he would have to put his belt on the line and we know how often that happens. Personally I think Nate Diaz won both of the first two fights and I would predict the same result if they are to have a trilogy fight. I’m off the “Conor is overrated train” but I still find myself doubting Conor in matchups against fighters with similar size as him.