Freelance 5 Fights for Conor McGregor to Take Next

UFC President Dana White announced earlier today (May 11) that there is now a deadline for negotiations for the “Notorious” Conor McGregor- Floyd “Money” Mayweather Jr. super-fight boxing match. He previously revealed over this past weekend that the then-yet-to-be announced date for the battle of September 16 was lost to the boxing world’s other highly anticipated contest, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and “Triple G” Gennady Gennadyevich Golovkin.

“I think (the chances of a deal with McGregor) are pretty good,” White initially told Jim Rome of CBS Sports. “Hopefully Monday I’m going to sit down and negotiate with Team Mayweather. I just can’t keep messing with this thing. I have to run my business and I have to focus on all the other things that are going on around here.”

Regardless of a win or a loss, the “Mystic” one shouldn’t need to return to fighting as the pay-per-view is expected by experts to generate somewhere in the neighborhood of $100 million. He’ll simply come back to combat because he likes it. Should he do so, there is a list of contenders (like the one below) that are waiting for him.

5. McGregor vs. Edson “Junior” Barbosa

At the time of this writing, the UFC’s official rankings still show Rafael Dos Anjos as a member of the lightweight (155-pound) division. He has moved to welterweight (170 pounds,) essentially moving Edson Barbosa up. McGregor had planted the seeds of a feud with Dos Anjos but the exchange of fists never happened as RDA would later suffer a broken foot.

Barbosa isn’t really known outside of the “MMA bubble” but the origin of McGregor’s “red panty night” catchphrase revolves around taking challengers and making them famous after he beats them. The Brazilian is on a three-fight winning streak that dates back to April of 2016 with the most recent win being a knockout of Beneil Dariush a stand-up fighter from a country that took Japan’s art of Jiu-Jitsu and truly made it famous, he could match up well.

Fans in Brazil would go nuts for a fellow countryman to takedown McGregor on their own soil after he took out the nation’s MMA icon in Jose Aldo, who went unbeaten for ten years, and did so in only 13 seconds to set the current record for the fastest UFC title fight finish.

4. McGregor vs. Eddie Alvarez II

Despite falling to McGregor and making him the first simultaneous two-division champion in UFC history when he did, Philadelphia’s former UFC lightweight champion in Eddie Alvarez still currently sits at #3 in the division rankings.

With two possible storylines: further domination of Alvarez by the new champion or possible redemption in getting the belt back and a strong showing or two beforehand (Alvarez is next set to go to war with Dustin “The Diamond” Poirier at this weekend’s UFC 211 pay-per-view event in Dallas,) the television commercials practically write themselves.

McGregor’s victory over Alvarez was a convincing one as the fight narrowly went into the second round, but a portion of UFC fans actually want to see McGregor fight in the division in which he still has a belt and with said storylines, a rematch is at least a somewhat viable option with list entry #3 on hold as described below.

3. McGregor vs. Nurmagomedov/Ferguson

The number one thing that McGregor’s detractors have been waiting to see from him since he reached is present level of stardom is a true title defense. At, best he’s only unified the UFC featherweight (145-pound) and interim featherweight belts before also tying up the lightweight division.

The fight to decide his next challenger at 155 pounds between Khabib “The Eagle” Nurmagomedov and Tony “El Cucuy” Ferguson had been scheduled for a third time and set for UFC 209 before Nurmagomedov was hospitalized due to a harsh weight cut. There has been no update on Nurmagomedov, but Ferguson is healthy, a finisher, and admittedly more marketable given his counterpart’s lesser grasp of English.

However, the 24-0 (8-0 in the UFC) Nurmagomedov is ahead of Ferguson in the rankings as the number one contender. Given his history of injuries and with “money fights” being first-priority since the UFC’s $4.2 billion sale last July, the UFC might turn to Ferguson to make sure a dance partner for polarizing Irishman makes the walk to their octagon on fight night.

2. McGregor vs Nate Diaz III

Thanks to fan reaction, a third fight with the younger Diaz brother seems like destiny. At the moment though, Diaz is essentially holding out because of the money he made the first two times around and because the proposed pay for a trilogy fight is not yet enough.

With Diaz now verbally sparring with White, the fight may be far off for now, but broke and then re-broke pay-per-view records with McGregor-Diaz I at UFC 196 and II at UFC 202 respectively. The most important record is the PPV buy rate record and UFC 202 event beat out the McGregor-Alvarez main event of the UFC Madison Square Garden in New York City (1.65 million buys to 1.3 million buys.)

Diaz is the only man to also (controversially) go the distance with McGregor in the octagon (UFC 202,) the only man in the organization to finish him (UFC 196,) and the only man in all of MMA outside of Joe Duffey and Artemij Sitenkov to finish him (all by way of submission.)

The language of dead presidents is universal.

1. McGregor vs. Georges “Rush” St-Pierre

GSP is giving things a second go in the UFC to make big paydays something “Mac” can give him. Add to that the fact that St-Pierre’s return fight with UFC middleweight (185-pound) champion Michael “The Count” Bisping has been scrapped by White, and a showdown with McGregor seems like the next high-profit, high-entertainment value fight to make.

White originally told Fox Sports Australia recently, "I made this GSP fight, we did a press conference. The thing was supposed to happen in July. Michael Bisping is going to have to defend his title now. We're not waiting for GSP…Georges St-Pierre is saying he will not be ready to compete now until November. Who knows if that’s even the case. It could be next year…We're moving on with the division, and Yoel Romero will get the next shot."

A video telling Bisping that the Canadian and UFC legend would be available to fight at any point after October was initially posted on his social media accounts earlier this week.

With similar aspects in both of the of their fighting style like precision, timing, and the left-hand power of McGregor, it only a matter of time before this big-number pay-per-view event takes place: a collision between a blast from the past and the current face of the UFC and the sport of MMA.