What’s next for Conor McGregor – Pacquiao, Paulie, or a UFC return?

Cian Carroll | 8 February 2018

Money makes the Notorious’ world go round

12 November 2016. Conor McGregor stood with his arm raised aloft in the centre of Madison Square Garden.

The Notorious had just demolished the Underground King Eddie Alvarez to win the UFC Lightweight title. McGregor became the first UFC fighter in history to hold two belts in two different weight divisions.

The Irishman was on the way to becoming an all-time great – possibly the best ever MMA fighter should his career continue at such a rate. 

At least until a certain Floyd Mayweather arrived in his sights and a $100m cheque was placed in his hand.

Now, no one is exactly sure what Conor McGregor is about anymore. His featherweight title has already been stripped of him by the organisation. And he will do well to hold onto his lightweight strap now, too, due to his inactivity.

The UFC had given their blessing to McGregor to fight Mayweather, and take some time off to take care of his new-born baby boy.

However, patience is beginning to run thin on Dana White and the new UFC owners’ end. One way or another, the Dubliner must decide on his next course of action with relative haste.

Another foray into the boxing game has been mooted including a grudge match with former sparring partner Paulie Malignaggi.

However, that simply won’t cut the mustard in terms of the PPV numbers McGregor would be aspiring to.

A bout with former P4P king Manny Pacquiao would certainly be of huge interest, though – at least in terms of numbers. And reports have circulated that early negotiations have taken place.

But, in sporting terms, a fight with the Filipino serves no purpose other than to boost his already bulging bank balance.

McGregor has long spoken about how he prides himself on being a pure martial artist, and a true champion. Surely that must mean returning to the sport where he thrives. And defending the title he so deservedly won.

And there are many huge match-ups just waiting to be made in either division. Interim champion Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov are two of the biggies at lightweight.

While back down at featherweight, there’s a massive rematch to be made with current champion Max Holloway.

McGregor’s return to the Octagon, however, will more than likely depend on one thing, and one thing only – money!

White and the UFC must find a way to satisfy the Irishman’s huge financial desires. Despite his absence, he remains their biggest cash cow and one true global superstar.

If they pay him, he will come. And Conor McGregor’s MMA legacy depends on it.

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