Six legit future opponents for Conor McGregor not named Floyd Mayweather



Conor McGregor has not stepped into the Octagon in 14 months, but hardly a day goes by with out his title being introduced up in an MMA dialog. Because the starry Irishman’s return from a damaged leg attracts nearer, there’s hypothesis about who could be subsequent to step beneath the brightest of spotlights with McGregor.

Nate Diaz, who had two entertaining and profitable conferences with McGregor, seems to be out of the operating. Diaz not too long ago fought out of his UFC contract and stated he plans to maneuver on to new challenges.

Floyd Mayweather, whose 2017 boxing match with McGregor was an enormous draw, stated this week that he’s negotiating one other boxing match with McGregor for 2023. Negotiating with whom? McGregor is beneath contract with the UFC, which appears eager to get him again into the Octagon — a spot the place Mayweather wouldn’t dare enterprise. McGregor additionally posted on Instagram that he was “#notinterested” and posted an image of him punching Mayweather.

So who does that go away for McGregor? Will UFC matchmakers purpose for the largest money-making combat they will e book, or will they appear to get McGregor again on monitor with a win? Will the UFC go proper for the glory by placing him in a championship bout?

Listed here are some prospects provided up by ESPN’s MMA crew.



Charles Oliveira retains his light-weight belt after defeating Dustin Poirier by way of rear-naked choke in the principle occasion of UFC 269.

He ought to combat Charles Oliveira subsequent, even when Oliveira wins or loses towards Islam Makhachev on Oct. 22. Sure, I notice that if Oliveira wins, that may imply I am campaigning for McGregor to get a light-weight title shot. … And what? I am good with it.

In fact, McGregor does not deserve a title combat, however this state of affairs has nothing to do with what McGregor deserves. It is all about what Oliveira deserves. If Oliveira beats Makhachev in Abu Dhabi, that might imply he is defeated Makhachev, Justin Gaethje, Dustin Poirier, Michael Chandler and Tony Ferguson in his previous 5 bouts. That’s insanely spectacular.

I am normally a purist with regards to these subjects. I’ll nearly all the time vote in favor of rankings and legitimacy over spectacle and pay-per-view buys. However I can not sit right here and faux that any a part of me could be upset if Oliveira acquired to money in on a McGregor combat. And even when he had been to lose Makhachev, the purpose nonetheless stands. If anybody deserves the cash that comes with a McGregor combat in MMA proper now, it is Oliveira. He has been one of the vital entertaining and strongest-willed athletes within the sport over the previous a number of years. — Brett Okamoto



On July 6, 2019, Jorge Masvidal made historical past with a five-second KO of Ben Askren at UFC 239.

The opponent for McGregor in his return will probably be a enterprise resolution. I can not consider a greater opponent to face him than the opposite fighter that may promote pay-per-views and drive huge gates with out a championship on the road: Jorge Masvidal.

Up to now, UFC president Dana White dominated out the matchup due to the scale differential, however now with McGregor seeming nearer to a return at welterweight than at light-weight, a combat with Masvidal may very well be a risk.

Masvidal would make the proper matchup for McGregor’s return. He enjoys stand-up exchanges and he excels at selling occasions. Both of them breaking the shedding streak can even open the door for large fights within the close to future.

Talks of a Gilbert Burns combat have been there for months now. Nonetheless, Masvidal can also be recovering from a hand damage and — if given the chance — he’ll probably await the previous two-division champion, a combat he is needed since 2019.

I do not suppose the door on the Diaz trilogy is closed, however Masvidal may be the closest factor when it comes to the scale of the occasion and one thing that would not be unfair to the remainder of the roster, like having McGregor with a contender or title combat at 155, the place he received six years in the past. — Carlos Contreras Legaspi



Paddy “The Baddy” Pimblett defeats Jordan Leavitt with a rear-naked choke to remain unbeaten within the UFC.

McGregor must be slotted on the prime of the cardboard. He is the largest monetary draw within the historical past of the game. There is not any manner round that, even with him having only one win since 2016. That is why loads of individuals will suggest fights with contenders like Michael Chandler or Justin Gaethje. However why not maximize McGregor’s return by pitting him towards one of many sport’s most outstanding rising stars in what could be a win-win state of affairs for the UFC? Pimblett might combat a couple of times extra earlier than McGregor’s return, which is unlikely till in all probability across the halfway level of subsequent 12 months, per sources.

If Pimblett can get a pair of wins, he’ll be even white-hot and on an analogous path to superstardom that McGregor was on in 2014. The combat can occur at welterweight, although each are pure lightweights. Pimblett has made it clear he good points loads of weight within the offseason, and McGregor seems bigger than ever in photographs. This is able to be an enormous enterprise rating for the UFC. It might pit England versus Eire, and the promotion stands to achieve regardless of who wins. If McGregor is victorious, “The Infamous” is again and may very well be put in place for a title shot. If Pimblett wins? Increase. The UFC can have a brand new megastar to construct round who isn’t even 30 years outdated. — Marc Raimondi



Alexander Volkanovski wins all 5 rounds within the judges’ eyes to maintain his featherweight belt at UFC 276.

I have been agitating concerning the want for the UFC to return to Australia for a while and there are rumors {that a} card will happen in Perth in February. I am undecided that is the combat for that occasion, however an Alexander Volkanovski-Conor McGregor bout could be huge. Volkanovski’s recognition in Australia, paired with the scores of Irish who stay Down Underneath, the UFC could be assured a full home.

And these two have earlier beef, too, with McGregor declaring he would “kick Volkanovski’s head off like a rugby ball” following the Australian’s victory over Brian Ortega at UFC 266 in 2020. The featherweight champion’s reply was easy, suggesting McGregor was “on the piss.” The Australian has since teased shifting to light-weight, so why not e book his first bout within the new division towards one of many largest names within the promotion? If Volkanovski wins, might he have a crack at champ-champ standing subsequent? — Sam Bruce



Have a look at the harm Justin Gaethje inflicted to the entrance leg of Dustin Poirier throughout their bout final April.

If McGregor is severe about competing for a belt within the UFC once more, he has to face somebody who poses an actual risk. However the UFC might be not fascinated about giving him an opponent who may choose to take him to the bottom and damage or submit him there. However he is not owed any favors in a division stuffed with legit contenders. That is why Justin Gaethje makes essentially the most sense.

It is the correct combat for McGregor as a result of he will not have to fret about somebody taking him to the canvas a dozen instances. Gaethje will stand and commerce with him. He’ll throw a bunch of leg kicks, too — and that will not be enjoyable for McGregor — however he’ll have interaction. And that is exactly what a 34-year-old, who hasn’t precisely been an lively fighter over the previous six years, wants. It is also a great combat for Gaethje, who has come up quick towards the division’s crème de la crème. And it is a good combat for the UFC, which may give McGregor quick title-shot validation if he wins or put a giant title on the résumé of a fighter headed towards one other championship alternative. It really works for everyone. — Myron Medcalf

No titleholders want apply

I am not going to counsel a single title, however I’ll slender down the chances. Of the a whole bunch of males on the UFC roster, I say go forward and stick McGregor into the cage with any fighter besides the eight males who put on championship belts. Do I’ve to spell out why handing a title shot to McGregor — who has only one win prior to now six years and has been completed thrice throughout that span — would remodel all UFC championship belts into cheapened trinkets? You do not see LeBron James and Tom Brady in championship video games besides once they earn their manner in, regardless of the rankings and income their star energy would ship. That is the way in which it’s on the highest degree of sports activities. You need sports activities leisure? Watch the WWE.

And UFC stockholders take notice: Any McGregor combat will pack an enviornment and make pay-per-view gross sales skyrocket. He is not simply the ‘A aspect’ of any matchup. He is the gold file all by himself. So, discover “The Infamous” a enjoyable combat and go rely your cash. — Jeff Wagenheim

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