UFC: Conor McGregor's options for next fight

Conor McGregor punches Nate Diaz during their bout at UFC 202. Photo / AP
Conor McGregor punches Nate Diaz during their bout at UFC 202. Photo / AP

Conor McGregor will soon have a decision to make regarding his next fight and whether or not he's going to keep his featherweight title or pursue another goal inside the Octagon.

UFC president Dana White stated that the organisation won't strip McGregor of his belt but the Irishman will have to decide on whether or not he'll give up his belt voluntarily if he chooses not to face Jose Aldo for a second time later this year.

McGregor defeated Aldo last December by knockout in just 13 seconds and has shown little interest in facing the Brazilian for a second time a year later.

White also said if McGregor gives up his belt, he can then pursue interests in other divisions - like the rumoured title fight against lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez.

But what situation or scenario makes the most sense for McGregor, considering it appears he'll have his pick of possible matchups or title fights once the UFC comes calling for his next bout?

Let's take a look at McGregor's options and what might be the most enticing matchup available to him following the big win over Diaz at UFC 202.


This is the fight that keeps popping up in the rumour mill, as McGregor could once again pursue a second UFC title after missing out on a shot at the lightweight belt when former champion Rafael dos Anjos pulled out of their previously scheduled bout in March.

Alvarez has been taking shots at McGregor for months, but the lightweight champion knows there isn't a more profitable fight in the UFC than to face him at a historic card like the one coming up on November 12 (US time) at Madison Square Garden.

McGregor would be the exact kind of draw the UFC needs to promote the debut card in New York City and the truth of the matter is options are limited right now for headliners to fight on that show.

In fact, McGregor's leverage to fight on that Nov. 12 card might be so great that he may even be able to convince the UFC to allow him to hold onto the featherweight title for three more months so he could potentially become a two-weight world champion before surrendering one of the belts after the show is over.

White has insisted that McGregor needs to do one or the other - either defend the featherweight title next or give it up - yet the temptation of a champion versus champion fight to headline UFC 205 might be too huge for the promotion to resist.


It's the same fight for McGregor but it takes place six weeks later at the year end card on Dec. 30 (US time) at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Now chances are if McGregor goes with this option, the chances he holds onto his featherweight title are pretty slim. If interim champion Jose Aldo is healthy and ready to defend the belt, the UFC would probably prefer him not sit out for six months or more just waiting for the chance to unify the title with McGregor.

Still, the timing of this card would give McGregor some much needed rest after a five round war with Diaz on August 20.

To fight at UFC 205, McGregor would be returning less than three months after the rematch with Diaz ended and considering the 166 strikes he absorbed that night, he might want to consider a little extra down time before fighting again.

The other benefit for McGregor could be financial because there have been rumours swirling that Ronda Rousey could potentially return before the end of the year and this show on Dec. 30 is the most likely landing spot. A McGregor-Rousey double headliner for UFC 207 would likely shatter all previous pay-per-view records or at least give the promotion a massive show to end the year.

In other words, that's a lot of extra cash landing in McGregor's pocket.


This probably seems like the least likely of all the scenarios available to McGregor, but one the UFC would probably vote to happen next.

Aldo was knocked out by McGregor with one punch last December, which brought to an end his long reign as featherweight champion in the UFC. Aldo bounced back in July with a unanimous decision victory over Frankie Edgar to win the interim title in McGregor's absence and now he's seeking vengeance for their first fight with a rematch later this year.

McGregor has said he doesn't have a lot of interest in this rematch, at least not for now, especially after Aldo has only won a single fight since they last met. McGregor also pointed to the obvious flaws in Aldo being declared the undisputed champion, after he got knocked out cold nine months ago when they met the last time.

Of course, McGregor's desire to best Aldo again and dispatch him for good could eventually trump his desire to pursue another belt or another division, but it still doesn't seem like this matchup will unfold.


Given McGregor's drawing power and the fact that the UFC needs a big main event to debut in New York, the smart bet is a lightweight title fight against Eddie Alvarez as the headline bout at UFC 205. Alvarez is a solid draw locally as he fights out of Philadelphia, but the Irish fans would flock to Madison Square Garden to see this matchup in person.

Plus the UFC has been promising a big debut card for New York for years and with White already saying that Rousey won't be ready for November, it gives McGregor all the leverage he needs to make this bout happen on his terms and conditions.

That means Conor McGregor versus Eddie Alvarez - champion versus champion - while Aldo would likely go onto defend the interim belt against another contender, perhaps eight fight winner Max Holloway could get his shot in the meantime.

- news.com.au

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