Are you ordering UFC 209 on pay-per-view this Saturday? UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor (pictured) will most likely shell out $59.95 to watch the show’s co-main event. Or, at least he should in order to scout the competition.
Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov battle for the vacant interim UFC lightweight title at UFC 209. Despite all this Mayweather vs. McGregor hoopla that’s been hoarding the MMA headlines, UFC president Dana White claims that superfight is going “nowhere.”
White, who at the end of the day is McGregor’s boss, anticipates his cash cow’s next fight will be a lightweight title unification bout against the victor of Saturday’s shootout.
“I expect Conor’s next fight to be in the UFC, in mixed martial arts, and the winner of Khabib and Ferguson,” White told TMZ Sports.
McGregor hasn’t been seen since blasting Eddie Alvarez to capture the UFC lightweight belt in November. He has, however, been heard plenty since making history by becoming the only fighter in UFC history to simultaneously hold two titles.
McGregor was none too pleased when the UFC stripped him of his featherweight gold after winning the lightweight belt in order to prevent a logjam in the 145-pound division. That’s when he really set his sights on a blockbuster boxing match with Floyd Mayweather.
McGregor professed last month that his next fight will be against the retired boxing legend “by the end of this year or early next year.”
McGregor was scheduled to take off the first-half of 2017 because of the birth of his first son. He was expected to defend (or unify) the UFC lightweight belt in his return, but then a potential $100 million+ payday against McGregor started making the rounds and that’s all “Notorious” wants to talk about now.
If Mayweather is the end game, it would be extremely risky for McGregor to face Ferguson or Nurmagomedov before then, particularly Nurmagomedov. The Russian owns arguably the most dominant ground-and-pound game in all of MMA, which many believe is McGregor’s kryptonite.
Ferguson is also very dangerous, but his style is more in line with McGregor’s. So that matchup would be determined by who has the better standup, which plays right into McGregor’s wheelhouse.
Another loss in MMA, which would be McGregor’s second in his last four outings, would most certainly kill any possibility of McGregor banking a monster paycheck against Mayweather.
In any event, by manufacturing an interim lightweight belt the UFC is showing that they’re prepared to move forward without McGregor in the short-term. How long White will be okay with his biggest superstar putting his MMA career on hold in order to chase a Mayweather bout is the real question.