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Conor McGregor’s next UFC opponent: Ferguson, Holloway, or Diaz?

Cian Carroll | 2 March 2018

Notorious could be back in action soon – but against who?

Conor McGregor announced on Instagram last week that he is back in training and aiming at a return to UFC action – sooner, rather than later.

After more than 15 months away from the Octagon, the current Lightweight champion reportedly offered to step in and fight Frankie Edgar at UFC 222.

It’s not known whether this was a legitimate offer from the McGregor camp, or a simple ploy to put the Irishman back on the UFC’s radar.

But the news has certainly got tongues wagging, either way. The Coral News Team take a look at the candidates for the Notorious’ next likely opponent.

Max Holloway

The current featherweight champion was pulled from the headline fight with Edgar due to injury. But there’s a bit of unfinished business between Holloway and McGregor.

The two met back in 2013, at the beginning of their UFC careers, in Boston. McGregor was victorious on the night, winning by unanimous decision.

However, Holloway has cut a swath through the division since then, claiming McGregor’s featherweight belt in a win over Jose Aldo last year.

It would certainly be a box-office fight between Holloway and McGregor. But there are doubts as to whether the Dubliner would want to move back down to the featherweight division.

Tony Ferguson

A lightweight unification bout with Tony Ferguson seems to make the most amount of sense.

The division is arguably McGregor’s most natural weight. Not to mention the fact that it’s past due that the Notorious defends one of his belts.

If his next fight is at any other weight – or sport for that matter – he runs the risk of having to relinquish a second strap.

Is Ferguson a big enough name to draw box-office crowds in their droves? That would be the initial worry for the McGregor camp.

The American is a top fighter, but his name doesn’t carry numbers.

Khabib Nurmagomedov

Most observers would place Nurmagomedov as McGregor’s most dangerous opponent. Which is arguably why this bout is not likely to happen any time soon.

The Russian is as feared as they come in the UFC with an unbeaten streak of 25 fights across the MMA spectrum.

An accomplished wrestler and judo practitioner, the Dagestan fighter is a ball of aggression, with heavy hands to boot.

If McGregor is on the money-trail – and it’s common knowledge that’s what he’s all about – a lightweight title defence in Russia would be mega.

Don’t hold your breath, though.

Nate Diaz

McGregor-Diaz III ticks a lot of boxes. From a financial point of view, a trilogy fight will be the biggest ‘money’ bout of the lot.

Between gate receipts and PPV numbers, it would probably top the biggest UFC fight of all time – which was McGregor-Diaz II.

The narratives are ridiculously sellable. Both fights have a win each – who is top dog? If It happens, at lightweight, it’s for a belt – unlike the previous two.

The press conferences before the previous two fights were electric. And the fights lived up to the billing. This one will happen – it’s just unsure exactly when.

Big fight previews, betting tips and MMA/UFC news – Coral have it all.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing