Conor McGregor: Who’s Next For The “Double Champ”?

Conor McGregor made history last week at Madison Square Garden by making light work of Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205 and becoming the first person in UFC history to hold two belts simultaneously, and with “The Notorious One” being the biggest draw in the company by a landslide, the powers above at UFC will be incredibly eager to book the double champ as soon as possible. You get the feeling from McGregor that, because of his constant trash talking and shenanigans, he could probable be booked in a fight with a hat stand and still bring in a huge amount of pay-per-view buys for the company, but it helps if he is booked in a fight that the fans want to see. This is why I have compiled a list of 6 potential opponents that McGregor could be facing very soon.

Tyrone Woodley
The UFC Welterweight Champion also fought on the card at UFC 205, retaining his belt after a split decision after a gruelling and spectacular 5 round fight against Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson. During the build up to the event however, Woodley’s eyes didn’t seem to be on his opponent Thompson but rather at McGregor after the two had had a slight argument over social media. McGregor was reportedly angry with Woodley for recording the Irishman whilst he attempted to throw a chair at Eddie Alvarez during a press conference leading up to the event.

McGregor has also flirted with the idea of challenging for a third belt, that belt being Woodley’s as the double champ has already fought at welterweight in his bouts with Nate Diaz. This may just be McGregor being McGregor and making bold statements to generate a buzz, or it could be McGregor actually believing he can win a treble of belts. I don’t believe this would be a good option for McGregor as he’s not as strong a fighter at welterweight, but McGregor vs Woodley for a potential third belt for Conor would be historic and certainly bring in a huge amount of money for the UFC.

Nate Diaz
It’s the trilogy everyone wants to see completed. Two of the most infamous trash talkers in the industry today, two people who really know how to promote a fight, go at it again to determine who wins this best of three series. Diaz came out on top at UFC 196 after finishing McGregor in the second round with a rear naked choke. McGregor then pulled one back at their rematch at UFC 202 by a decision victory. After almost eight months of feuding, insults and bottle throwing, it would all come down to the deciding fight.

Diaz has fuelled the raging flames of rumours of a third fight by turning up at McGregor’s after party whilst he was celebrating his momentous win over Eddie Alvarez. This match up is guaranteed to bring in a lot of pay-per-view buys too, as demonstrated by the fact this fight smashed sales records first time around. There is definitely bad blood between both camps that has been building up for months and months, and to see it all culminate in a fight that is sure to produce fireworks inside the Octagon would be spectacular.

Khabib Nurmagomedov
The undefeated native of Russia has most recently threatened to quit the UFC if he doesn’t get his shot at McGregor’s Lightweight belt, and I don’t see why the UFC shouldn’t give him it. The man is an animal, winning all 24 fights in his career, 8 of those in the UFC, and submitting Michael Johnson at UFC 205 via kimura shows that Nurmagomedov is a force to be reckoned with in the lightweight division.

Nurmagomedov had a confrontation with McGregor backstage at a press conference which further builds tension between the two, however, McGregor doesn’t seem too keen on the idea:
“He’s (Nurmagomedov) fought once in eight years. He ain’t fighting frequent enough for my liking. For me to commit to something like that, I need to know people who are going to show up, and he’s a consistent pull-out merchant. He had a good performance – fair play to him. We’ll see where it goes.”

If this does lead to a fight between the two, you can be certain it will be an astounding fight.

Tony Ferguson
Out of all of these candidates, you could argue that ‘El Cucuy’ deserves it the most. Ferguson made quite easy work of former lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos in his last fight at The Ultimate Fighter Finale and currently sits #2 in the lightweight standings. He winner of Ultimate Fighter 13 is technically gifted and I personally feel like he could be more of a challenge for McGregor than the man who sits above him in the rankings, the aforementioned Nurmagomedov.

The only problem with this fight would be that it’s not an easy cash grab like all the other candidates on this list. Ferguson is a formidable force in the division and an excellent fighter, but the sound of his name doesn’t sell fights like, for example, Nate Diaz does. However, McGregor’s presence alone sells the fight anyway and it gives casual fans a further insight into how good Tony Ferguson is. This fight would give Ferguson the coveted title shot that he most definitely deserves and his opportunity to become a huge name in the sport, a name that does sell fights.

Jose Aldo
What a rematch this would be. No one can deny that Aldo is a legend of the sport after all he has achieved, but now it seems the mention of the Brazilian’s name instantly brings everyone to the fact that he was knocked out by McGregor at UFC 194 last December in just 13 seconds. That event was booked to be one of the greatest fights of all time and, whilst it was an extraordinary day in UFC history, it was memorable for all the wrong reasons for Aldo.

The current interim featherweight title holder is holding our for his rematch against McGregor, a rematch he deserves after climbing back up the rankings. The only problem is that McGregor is now champion of two divisions which means he has twice the amount of people asking for a fight, but a bout with Jose Aldo ranks higher that all other challengers and would be a match for the ages so a fight with the #5 pound-for-pound best fighter in the world is most certainly on the cards for McGregor.

Floyd Mayweather
It seems the stuff of dreams, two of the best and most popular fighters from two different industries coming together to have a fight for the ages, but it’s certainly a possibility. Mayweather has said in the past that McGregor is the only person he would consider coming out of retirement to fight and, despite talks seemingly falling through earlier this year, this potential bout is back to being the only thing on the lips of combat fans.

Most recently, McGregor has been branding ‘Money’ Mayweather as “afraid” for wanting to fight on his terms in a boxing match and not “real fighting – true, pure unarmed combat”. McGregor is demanding $100 million if he were to fight Mayweather in boxing rules, which is why both parties continue to fail to agree on terms.

Whether this super fight of the ages were to happen or not, it would be a true spectacle to watch and would rake in an untold amount of money. The cockiness of the fighters, the great skill in their respective fighting styles and their popularity and huge followings are all the ingredients to make one of the greatest fights in the history of all combat sports.

By Harry Robinson

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