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Conor McGregor is popping up more and more – and he says he’s eager to return.
In recent weeks, UFC president Dana White was noncommittal when asked about McGregor’s return and cited the Irish star’s lack of medical clearance from a leg injury suffered against Dustin Poirier in July 2021.
But McGregor has indicated he’s nearing full medical clearance and has his sights set on a July return. As for who is next, McGregor sees options – and there is seemingly no rumored frontrunner for his immediate return matchup.
Looking at the landscape of the lightweight and welterweight divisions, there shouldn’t be a shortage of fighters willing to raise their hands for a “red panty night” payday against the Irish megastar.
Check below for 12 possible opponents who could fight McGregor if he returns in the next six months. The list is in no particular order. Spoiler alert: Jake Paul is not one of them.
OK, this is the easy one – and it’s the one that probably would make the masses the most pleased. With one fight left on Nate Diaz’s current contract, now is the time for the UFC to book this one. If somehow the UFC and Diaz aren’t able to extend the deal past the one remaining fight, it’d be a shame if this bout wasn’t the one.
At one point, Michael Chandler was the king of Bellator. Around the same time, Conor McGregor reigned supreme in the UFC. Weird time-travel nostalgia aside, this fight would be intriguing from a stylistic perspective. And again, who would complain? UFC 274 vs. Tony Ferguson has to happen first for Chandler, but this could be next.
Sticking with the UFC 274 theme, Tony Ferguson – win or lose against Michael Chandler – would make as much sense as almost anyone on this list. He’s one of the biggest-named options out there and has been linked with McGregor during their time as UFC lightweight contenders. It would be fun to finally see this one come to fruition.
Yes, Charles Oliveira has a title fight weeks from now against Justin Gaethje at UFC 274. But when it comes to Conor McGregor, does any of that even matter? Like it or not, McGregor could easily walk into a title fight – or a No. 1 contender opportunity. So regardless of what happens, Oliveira could be next. He’s been on McGregor’s radar since he touched gold.
Justin Gaethje is the opposite side of the UFC 274 coin, but the same deal applies. Win or lose, he could find himself in a McGregor money fight – and who would complain about that bout from an entertainment perspective? Fireworks guaranteed.
Part of me wants to label Conor McGregor’s callouts of Kamaru Usman crazy talk. But the other part of me is smart enough to know the UFC would like to put McGregor in the biggest fights possible. His chance to capture a third division’s title would be in front of him. Perhaps that’s the selling point, however much its relevancy can be argued.
From a technical breakdown standpoint, many analysts would probably say Islam Makhachev would be a terrible stylistic matchup for Conor McGregor – and that may be true. Makhachev is the closest thing to Khabib Nurmagomedov, which could prove either good and bad – but definitely spicy. There is no love lost between the two teams, still to this day. A matchup between Makhachev and McGregor would reignite the lowly burning flame – and draw eyeballs in the process.
Both Conor McGregor and Robbie Lawler are at weird points in their careers. Neither of them really fit in. The perception is they can compete against top contenders, but not necessarily win. Conversely, they would likely be favored against opposition of a level down. That’s why they’re a perfect fit, as two legends and former champions.
Conor McGregor vs. Jorge Masvidal has been hyped for some time now as a two-way “money fight.” McGregor has always been the bigger draw, but Masvidal has gained steam in recent years – although losses have certainly hurt his stock. Regardless, Masvidal could still serve as a perfect foil for McGregor, who could see him as a name-worthy foe.
Everyone involved in the Conor McGregor vs. Dustin Poirier 3 trilogy departed from the third fight open to a potential fourth one down the line. For McGregor, he can attempt evening the score at 2-2. For Poirier, he gets another money fight against a guy he’s TKOed twice in the past 18 months. For the UFC, they get to continue a rivalry and a storyline the masses are familiar with.