Conor McGregor vs. Floyd Mayweather on hold, UFC fighter to face Khabib Nurmagomedov or Tony Ferguson next

By @saihoops on
Conor McGregor
Nov 12, 2016; New York, NY, USA; Conor McGregor (blue gloves) celebrates after defeating Eddie Alvarez (red gloves) in their lightweight title bout during UFC 205 at Madison Square Garden. USA TODAY Sports/Adam Hunger

Conor McGregor's next fight won't be against Floyd Mayweather Jr.. The UFC Lightweight Champion will face the winner of the Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Tony Ferguson fight scheduled at UFC 209 on March 4 in Las Vegas, Nevada, according to Dana White, president of the mixed martial arts organisation.

McGregor, currently on a lengthy break from the octagon to await the birth of his first child with partner Dee Devlin, and Mayweather are reportedly nearing terms on a blockbuster crossover fight which would see the Irish fighter enter the boxing ring. During a conversation with TMZ Sports, White refuted reports that the McGregor-Mayweather fight was nearly finalised. 

“I don’t know where we’re at (with McGregor vs Mayweather). We’re nowhere. We’re nowhere with it. Conor wouldn’t train with him (Freddie Roach), Conor has his own team and his own crew. I expect Conor’s next fight to be in the UFC, in mixed martial arts (MMA), and it would be against the winner of Khabib (Nurmagomedov) and (Tony) Ferguson," White said while speculating that Mayweather, his biggest pay-per-view draw, should be ready to return to the octagon in mid-2017.

Earlier this month, Mayweather told ESPN's Stephen A. Smith that "we're getting very, very close" to the super fight with McGregor, a claim which White later denied. On Saturday, White acknowledged that the Conor McGregor vs. Floyd Mayweather Jr. fight will happen at some stage. "The fight (against Floyd) is going to be millions of dollars. The guy (McGregor) can make anywhere from 30 to 60 million bucks.”

Conor McGregor's next fight: Khabib Nurmagomedov or Tony Ferguson 

Several MMA analysts reckon Khabib Nurmagomedov has the tools to dethrone McGregor as the kingpin of the Lightweight division. White, too, realises that the Russian's rise to the top would help the UFC unearth a new star, rather than depending on McGregor to sell major pay-per-views. “Listen, people have been doubting Conor since the day he stepped onto the scene. Khabib is awesome, Khabib is tough, but people have been doubting him since day one," White said of Nurmagomedov on Saturday. 

Ferguson (22-3 MMA, 12-1 UFC) would face Nurmagomedov (24-0 MMA, 8-0 UFC) for the interim lightweight title at UFC 209, with the winner squaring off against champion Conor McGregor to unify the 155-pound belts in the Irishman's first fight back. The fight could take place at UFC 213 in July. Meanwhile, all bets are off with regards to a date for the Conor McGregor vs. Floyd Mayweather Jr. fight. Some analysts expect the super bout to take place sometime between late 2017 and mid-2018.