He last won in the Octagon more than two years ago – and that was in the blink-and-you-miss-it bout against Cowboy Cerrone. Yet Notorious still has an ability to capture the public attention like nobody else in the martial arts world. So it is that everyone has been weighing in with an opinion as to whom he will fight next.
We seem to have been talking about him and his comebacks forever, so it is easy to overlook the fact that McGregor is still only 33. Not in the first flush of youth, but not the over-the-hill “yesterday’s news” that some would like to suggest. Still, that’s not to say the clock isn’t ticking, and if he’s going to be taken seriously as a UFC title contender again, he has to do it right this time, and that means squaring up against the right opponent. Flattening another Cowboy in 40 seconds will not prove anything to anyone.
A Diaz trilogy
Welterweight Colby Covington spoke to Sportkeeda last month and said a trilogy against Nate Diaz would be “the obvious choice.” It’s the bookmakers’ favourite too, even the longest and best UFC odds don’t go beyond 2-1 if you want to place a wager on Diaz being McGregor’s comeback opponent.
Covington believes the match up “makes the most sense for the UFC” and is a chapter that needs closure. The pair first fought at UFC 196 in 2016, a short-notice bout that Diaz won. McGregor got revenge later that year in UFC 202.
The biggest obstacle could be Diaz himself, who has requested release from the UFC to pursue other interests. However, Dana White has said on several occasions that he expects the McGregor Diaz trilogy to happen, so the chances are high that it will.
Cejudo has conditions
Meanwhile, Henry Cejudo has thrown McGregor a challenge of his own via Twitter. The double belt holder, who retired after successfully defending his bantamweight title in 2020 hasn’t just offered to come out of retirement. He also says he’ll bulk up by two weight classes to take McGregor on at 155lb (lightweight) – but only if McGregor “can stay sober.”
The pair have done so much sparring by social media over the years, it only seems appropriate that they should take it to the octagon. So far, McGregor’s only response has been of the schoolyard insult variety.
Chandler odds shorten
Michael Chandler is hot property in UFC at present. There’s little doubt McGregor would relish the opportunity, but if anyone had asked a week ago, the idea would have been quickly scotched. Surely Chandler has his eyes on Oliveira or Gaethje to set up a shot at the title?
However, Chandler himself surprised everyone by announcing over the weekend that he would be interested in taking on McGregor in July or August. He told MMA Fighting the timing would be perfect and added “I think I’m a great guy for Conor if he comes back.”
It’s hard to argue with that. For now, we can only watch and wait.