- Irishman considers next move after beating Donald Cerrone
- UFC president White eyes lucrative Nurmagomedov rematch
Shortly after Conor McGregor had dispatched Donald Cerrone within 40 seconds in his UFC comeback on Saturday night, attention turned to the Irishman’s next opponent.
Dana White, the UFC president, was quick to talk up the prospect of a rematch with the undefeated lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov. The match-up would be a huge moneyspinner after their last fight, in October 2018, ended in acrimony and violence. McGregor taunted his Russian opponent before that fight, and made negative references to his Muslim faith. Worse was to come when Nurmagomedov ended up brawling with some of his opponent’s entourage after defeating the Irishman. Both men received suspensions and fines for their part in the tawdry scenes.
“We’re looking at Hagler-Hearns,” White said. “We’re looking at like Ali-Foreman, Ali-Frazier. This is a massive fight with global appeal. It’s the fight you make, it’s the fight that makes sense. It’s for the 155lbs title … Khabib is the fight to make. It’s huge for Khabib’s legacy, too. If he beat Conor McGregor, then he beats Tony Ferguson, then he beats Conor McGregor again, I mean this is how this kid, when he retires, he’s 30-something-and-0 and he’s beaten all of the best.”
Nurmagomedov is due to fight Tony Ferguson in April, and on Saturday McGregor hinted he did not want to wait while the Russian recovered from his next bout.
“I don’t think the ‘who’ matters,” McGregor said. “The who doesn’t matter for me now. I’m looking at dates now. I know March was there. I’m going to have a look at a calendar and see where we’re at … I’ll be ready. I’ll have a celebration tonight. I’ll chill with my kids tomorrow. I’ll show [my son] Junior the fight on the telly and see how he reacts. I’ll see what he thinks of it. Then back to training.”
McGregor also expressed an interest in fighting Ferguson, welterweight Jorge Masvidal and Nate Diaz, who he fought in two high-profile contests in 2016. “Let’s go, Nathan,” McGregor said. “Let’s go, brother. [Fight] number three is always here. We’re right here, Nathan.”
There could also be a move away from mixed martial arts. After Saturday’s bout, Floyd Mayweather posted a fake promotional advert for a rematch of their 2017 boxing fight. That contest earned both men tens of millions of dollars, even though the quality of boxing on show was debatable. Mayweather, one of the greatest fighters of all time, won that fight in 10 rounds after toying with McGregor, who had never boxed professionally before.
“He forgot ‘McGregor Sports and Entertainment’ on the poster,” McGregor said. “That right there cuts him out, so it’s me and Manny [Pacquiao]. Let’s see what happens. That Floyd, he’s a funny man, that Floyd. We’ll see what happens. The discussions are always on going. They never stop. You know Floyd is going through money fast. He’s far from retired, and that rematch will happen at some stage.”