Conor McGregor's next fight: Five intriguing options

By @saihoops on
Conor McGregor
Nov 12, 2016; New York, NY, USA; Conor McGregor celebrates with his two championship belts after defeating Eddie Alvarez during UFC 205 at Madison Square Garden. Adam Hunge / USA TODAY Sports

Conor McGregor gave a good account of himself during his pro boxing debut Saturday evening against Floyd Mayweather. And while many expect the Irishman to return to the octagon, McGregor hasn't ruled out more bouts inside the squared circle.

McGregor (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC, 0-1 boxing) suffered a 10th-round TKO defeat to Mayweather (50-0 boxing) and earned a guaranteed payday of $US30 million (AU$37 million) besides projected overall earnings in excess of US$100 million (AU$125 million). In the wake of his biggest career payday, McGregor was posed with the option of retiring from combat sports. However, McGregor isn't going anywhere.  

“Everyone is like, ‘Oh, he’s going to retire -- he made so much money.’ He’s ambitious. He’s super ambitious, and he loves to fight. He loves to compete and he’s a superb professional athlete. So there’s much more of Conor McGregor that everybody will see, and we’ll see what’s next," Audie Attar, the manager of McGregor, told MMA Junkie on Saturday. 

During Saturday's post-fight press conference, McGregor seemed enthused about the highly-anticipated Nate Diaz trilogy but not before encouraging boxing promoters to field him offers in the near future. 

Conor McGregor next fight: Five possible options 

Nate Diaz trilogy 

This fight is almost certain to go down in 2018. But not before the Irishman defends his UFC lightweight championship against one of the contenders in his division. Diaz (19-11 MMA, 14-9 UFC) could be forced to earn a title shot at the 155-pound division by fighting another contender. On paper, the Conor McGregor vs Nate Diaz trilogy should go down as the biggest fight in MMA history. 

Khabib Nurmagomedov 

The No. 1 ranked fighter in the UFC lightweight division has been calling out McGregor for months. There's just one hurdle: Nurmagomedov (24-0 MMA, 8-0 UFC) will have to make weight and could be forced behind the winner of the Kevin Lee-Tony Ferguson interim lightweight championship match at UFC 216. Regardless, a potential McGregor-Nurmagomedov bout has all the makings of an explosive contest.  

Paulie Malignaggi 

The retired boxer hasn't stepped foot in the ring since his knockout loss to Englishman Sam Eggington in March. And going by videos of his sparring sessions with McGregor, Malignaggi (36-8) looks out of shape and rightfully retired. However, the Magic Man has positioned himself better than any other boxer to be Conor McGregor's next opponent -- after taking multiple pot shots at the Irishman. The potential bout could also prove to be a fairer fight than the lopsided McGregor-Mayweather showdown. 

Tony Ferguson-Kevin Lee winner

Tony Ferguson (22-3 MMA, 12-1 UFC) and Kevin Lee (16-2 MMA, 9-2 UFC), the second and seventh ranked fighters in the UFC lightweight division, will come to blows at UFC 216 on Sept. 10. As it stands, the victor is due to earn a title opportunity against McGregor. Dana White, president of the UFC, is also under pressure to make McGregor defend one of his two championships. And McGregor would likely do that in Dec. 

Max Holloway

In 2013, McGregor got the better of Hollaway (18-3 MMA, 14-3 UFC) by decision but a lot has changed since then. Hollaway, the reigning UFC featherweight champion, has dominated his division and believes he's ready for a rematch against the Irishman. There should be plenty of interest since Hollaway currently owns a 11-match winning streak including a career-defining victory over Jose Aldo at UFC 212. 

Conor McGregor has a lot of options. And his manager believes it's a good problem to have. “He wants that trilogy (with Diaz). You’ve got Khabib calling him out, then you obviously have Tony Ferguson and Kevin Lee who are fighting for the interim lightweight title. You have Max Holloway, who is the 145 champ now, who Conor beat after blowing out his ACL at the beginning of the fight. You have options, and he loves mixed martial arts."