“Options are a beautiful thing, and I have many.” (Conor McGregor)
As Conor McGregor neared his biggest pay day to date, fighting Floyd Mayweather in a boxing ring, he uttered these famous words. It is just as true now as it was when he said it. The biggest draw in the UFC, maybe in combat sports as a whole, has numerous options. The question is where does he go? The fight he takes will not even come close to the money he just walked away with. McGregor has made no secret of his plan to make his name, make his money and then leave competitive action. Is this the time he leaves? It surely can’t be. There are too many beautiful options for him to pass up at the moment.
Stay in Boxing
There is an outside chance that ‘the Notorious One’ could stay in the sport of boxing. Fighting the best of the best, even if he was beyond his prime, showed that the Irishman has a lot to learn about the discipline at the elite level. A man who does not believe in failure, like McGregor, must have an appetite to prove himself in a boxing ring. He will not want his record to stay at 0-1 for the rest of time.
The issue here is the opponent he would be facing. Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin look set to fight again after their draw which was controversial. Who else has the pull around the middleweight division where McGregor would more than likely compete?
McGregor – Diaz 3
While Dana White recently informed the public that the third fight was not booked rumours have been swirling around before the Mayweather fight. It will happen. It has to. A win each for both the fighters signals the need for a conclusion. Is it the right time? It is indeed. Nate Diaz has not fought since the second encounter in order to preserve his reputation and not lose what would be the biggest pay day of his career.
December 30th has been speculated greatly as the date for this encounter to take place. The UFC would ultimately receive some heat from the roster if the fight was made. The fans may want it but fighters in the two divisions McGregor concurred will fancy a crack at him. It seems the UFC owners are at a crossroads here. Go for the big money fight? Or give a fighter who has worked hard for a title shot the chance to face ‘the Notorious One’?
After UFC 216, where Tony Ferguson submitted Kevin Lee, he seems to be the man that has the most right in fighting the Irish superstar. Ferguson claimed the interim lightweight title at UFC 216 and now McGregor must defend the undisputed title against him. It is not only Ferguson who believes this but also White who said it was a fight that ‘has to happen’.
It is likely that McGregor will be faced with the decision of vacating the lightweight title or fighting Ferguson. The two weight champ was forced to give up his featherweight title in November 2016 and will be unwilling to do so again.
The current champion at 145 is Max Holloway who beat Jose Aldo for the belt in Rio De Janeiro at UFC 212. Hollaway now holds the undisputed belt at the weight McGregor dominated before he moved up. The pair have met before with McGregor claiming a unanimous decision victory.
While the fight is a likely one it would not be a good move for McGregor. He looks drained fighting at featherweight and making the weight could be a struggle now that he has moved up to 155 and reaching 170 against Nate Diaz.
Tyron Woodley is dominant at welterweight. He may not be the most loved fighter on the roster due to his defensive style but nobody in the division can beat him right now. Sounds like a challenge made for McGregor. 170 is a push for the Irishman and this option has to be considered an outsider. The pull of increasing his legacy to a three weight world champion could tempt McGregor.
A dream fight for many UFC fans. Nurmagomedov is an absolute monster in the octagon. He is dominant and would give McGregor huge problems if he could get him to the ground, which you would not bet against. With a record of 24-0 in MMA he poses a real threat to McGregor’s dominant reputation.
The issue is Nurmagomedov has been inactive. His last fight took place at UFC 2015 11 months ago. Since then he has pulled out of a match up against Ferguson, for a third time, due to illness after issues with his weight cut. Imagine the intense pressure on the Russian in the build up with McGregor. A world tour and the globes eyes on you 24/7 would seriously weight heavily on him. To claim the McGregor fight he would need to prove his fitness and ability to prepare for the fight. He is a couple of fights away from earning this fight.
Why not? In his own words, ‘Get in. Get rich. Get out’. He got in, he is rich and now the final step of his plan could be realised. He has spoken of his wish to work in the business area of the UFC. McGregor is switched on an knows that this cannot last forever.
Unlikely of course. But as yourself, would it really surprise you if he called it a day?
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