Now that the dust has settled on UFC 205, I thought I’d take a moment to give my opinion on what I think should be next for Conor McGregor now that he’s added the UFC’s lightweight title to his trophy case.
There’s a handful of names out there floating around in regards to who his next opponent should be. Names mentioned include lightweight contenders Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson, former featherweight champion Jose Aldo, current welterweight champion Tyron Woodley, and of course a potential trilogy fight with Nate Diaz. Let’s examine the options (in order of my preference):
- Khabib Nurmagomedov: This is who gets my vote as McGregor’s next opponent. Nurmagomedov is 24-0, and he demolished Michael Johnson on Saturday night. While I don’t think that he’d be able to stand and trade punches with McGregor, the fight would get very interesting if he’s able to get McGregor to the ground.
- Jose Aldo: Regardless of the fact that their fight at UFC 194 only lasted 13 seconds, I’d still love to see a rematch between McGregor and Aldo. While I’m still unsure who’d win in a rematch, I’m quite certain that the rematch would last longer than 13 seconds. If McGregor returns to featherweight, then I think Aldo should be his first title defense (side note: if McGregor vacates the featherweight title, then I think Aldo should fight the winner of Max Holloway vs. Anthony Pettis for the vacant title).
- Tony Ferguson: The second of the top two lightweight title contenders, Ferguson is my third choice to see fight McGregor next. He’s 22-3, and is on a 9 fight win streak after picking up a recent win over former UFC lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos. The only thing holding him back from being number one on my list is that he didn’t defeat dos Anjos in spectacular fashion, nor did he peak my interest with a pro wrestling style callout of McGregor like how Khabib Nurmagomedov did.
- Nate Diaz: Well, simply put I do want to see McGregor/Diaz 3 at some point. But I just don’t want to see it right now. It would be cool if their next fight was for the title, but I’m not a fan of Diaz getting a title shot right now because I feel he doesn’t really deserve one right now. Other than going 1-1 against McGregor in two welterweight bouts, and a win over Michael Johnson (who has shown that he’s not in the top 10 at lightweight right now), what has Diaz really done to warrant a title shot as of late?
- Tyron Woodley: Of course there’s always the idea that McGregor should move up to welterweight now to challenge for the welterweight title. I’m not very keen on this idea, especially right now considering McGregor hasn’t defended his featherweight title, and now he should have obligations to defend the lightweight title. Furthermore, I just don’t think McGregor would be able to hang with the bigger and stronger fighters he’d face at welterweight. Fighters like Woodley or Stephen Thompson would have size and strength advantages that I don’t think McGregor would be able to overcome. So while I’m not saying “no” to the idea of McGregor challenging for the welterweight title forever, I’m just saying that right now isn’t the best time for it in my opinion. If he cleans out the lightweight division, then I’d be more open to the idea.
- Floyd Mayweather: Well, I guess I should address the elephant in the room here. Do I want to see this? Not really to be honest. I just don’t see anything good that can come out of this matchup in a boxing ring where I’m pretty sure McGregor would lose, or even in an MMA cage where McGregor would probably win. I’d much rather watch McGregor defend one of his UFC titles against a mixed martial artist, but of course I’d watch a McGregor/Mayweather matchup if it happened. But on that note, I hope it doesn’t.