Sports Media

Conor McGregor

Steve Marcus/Getty Images

Five Potential Opponents For A Future Conor McGregor UFC Return

Conor McGregor
Steve Marcus/Getty Images

Five Potential Opponents For A Future Conor McGregor UFC Return

Conor McGregor has been sidelined from the UFC octagon since he broke his fibula at UFC 264. Now, ten months later, it is time to start discussing who McGregor will fight when it is time to return to the cage. This discussion is coming off the heels of McGregor being called out by Charles Oliveira and Michael Chandler at UFC 274. “The Notorious” has also been teasing a return on Twitter. 

McGregor has won one of his last four fights, this makes his next bout crucial to the future of his career. Surprisingly, news on McGregor’s next fight is likely closer than you may think.

“(Conor McGregor) is chomping at the bit to come back,” UFC President Dana White told TMZ in March. “Realistically, when you look at everything he has got going on right now with coming back, and other things that need to be done to get ready to prepare again. (His return) will probably be early fall.”

Quote viz TMZ Sports

This is great news for anyone that is itching for McGregor fight news. The UFC currently has its pay-per-view main events filled through July. This means they will begin to look at options for the cards in August, September, and October. This fits right in with McGregor’s early fall return. 

Now that we have laid out the timetable for McGregor’s return let’s look at some potential opponents. In this, we will start with the fighters that are most likely to find themselves in the cage with McGregor and work to the less feasible options. 

1. Michael Chandler

It is safe to say that Michael Chandler is the current favorite to be next in line for McGregor. After Chandler’s explosive front kick knockout of Tony Ferguson at UFC 274, he proceeded to call for a title shot or a fight with McGregor. At the moment, it seems like Charles Oliveira and Islam Makhachev will be fighting for the vacant lightweight belt. This leaves Chandler with McGregor. With that in mind, Chandler also mentioned he would be ready to fight whenever McGregor wanted and he would be willing to move up to 170 pounds. This certainly improves the chance Chandler ends up fighting McGregor. 

On McGregor’s half, a fight with Chandler makes sense. First off, Michael Chandler has a decently sized fan base. During his UFC run, “Iron Mike” has gone 2-2. More importantly, all four of his fights have been fan-friendly. His two wins are devastating knockouts over Dan Hooker and the previously mentioned Ferguson. Meanwhile, his loss to Charles Oliveira came after he nearly finished the fight in round one and his loss to Justin Gaethje was the 2021 Fight of the Year. A bout between McGregor and Chandler could possibly be the most entertaining fight of McGregor’s career. That is if both of their chins are able to last five rounds. If that is not already enough, if the Irishmen were to beat Chandler he would have an argument for deserving the next lightweight title shot. 

2. Justin Gaethje

Justin Gaethje is in an interesting situation. After a loss to Charles Oliveira, he is 0-2 in UFC championship fights and he is left to work his way back to another title shot. A fight between McGregor and Gaethje has a lot of the same logic used in the Chandler fight. It is an entertaining fight for the fans and if McGregor wins, he will fight for a belt. However, the difference would be that a bout with Gaethje would provide an opportunity for McGregor to display his trash-talking abilities. McGregor and Gaethje have not liked each other for a while now. The beef between the two has resulted in a number of Twitter interactions that are too copious to list here. It is safe to say that their beef is still active as Gaethje recently said he wants to end McGregor’s career.

This fight is certainly possible but McGregor and the UFC may opt to steer clear of Gaethje for the return of the Mac. Gaethje throws some of the best leg kicks in the sport and putting McGregor in the cage with him seems dangerous. McGregor would likely be destined to a result that is similar to his last two fights with Poirier. With that being said, if anyone is crazy enough to take a fight with someone that is a terrible stylistic matchup and have confidence in getting a win, it is Conor McGregor. In fact, he did just that in his fight with Khabib Nurmagomedov. 

3. Nate Diaz

The trilogy fight between Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz will always be on the table. However, the UFC has continuously delayed the inevitable. Now, this may actually be the last opportunity for McGregor and Diaz to put a stamp on their rivalry. The future of Diaz is muddy. The only thing that we know is that he has one fight left on his UFC contract. After that fight, he may retire, leave the promotion, or resign. There is no reason to speculate on what he may choose as Diaz seems to change his mind on a whim. This has created a ticking clock on a potential pay-per-view blockbuster. A Diaz fight may not help McGregor work his way back to a belt but in the fight business, what makes dollars makes sense. I think “The Notorious” would agree with that statement and accept the fight

There have been numerous rumors of Diaz fighting the likes of Dustin Poirier, Vicente Luque, Tony Ferguson, or Khamzat Chimaev but the fact that none of these fights came to fruition provides a little more optimism that the UFC may be withholding a fight from Diaz until it is time for the McGregor trilogy. 

4. Jorge Masvidal

The fact that we have not seen a fight between Jorge Masvidal and Conor McGregor is slightly surprising. The pair are currently two of the biggest superstars in the sport but their paths have yet to cross. Right now would be the perfect time for the UFC to explore the option. It seems like McGregor is interested in fighting at 170 pounds. If that is true, he might as well fight someone in that weight class instead of dragging a 155-pounder up a division. Out of all the options at 170, Masvidal makes the most sense. Not only is he a superstar but he will be more than willing to stand and trade with McGregor. In addition, Masvidal is 0-3 in his last three. If this fight is booked, the UFC is guaranteed a win out of one of their biggest stars, no matter the outcome.

I would be remiss to not mention Jorge Masvidal’s ongoing lawsuit with Colby Covington. Right now it is difficult to say how this will affect each fighter. This may affect Masvidal’s ability to accept a fight. That is just another factor to keep in mind. 

5. Max Holloway

In order for a Max Holloway and Conor McGregor fight to take place, there are a couple of things that must happen. Most importantly, Max Holloway has to lose to Alexander Volkanovski in their featherweight championship fight at UFC 276 on July 2. That sounds strange but if Holloway were to win that fight, he would likely defend the belt against Volkanovski. On the other hand, a third loss to Volkanovski would likely result in Holloway moving up to lightweight. This move is likely as Holloway has fought for interim gold at lightweight in the past.

If Holloway makes a more committed move to 155 pounds, there is no better man to welcome him to the division than McGregor. There is also some history with this one, the two fought back in 2013 when McGregor won via decision. This was the only fight McGregor did not finish during his historic seven-fight win streak in the UFC. “The Notorious” may find interest in attempting to finish Holloway and take the fight with the Hawaiian. If he does, MMA fans would be in for a treat. Max Holloway is a fan favorite with a great chin and seemingly endless gas tank. If you have not picked up on the theme, this would be yet another amazing fight for the fans. 

Who is out on the McGregor sweepstakes?

This list did not include a handful of names that you may have expected to see. The biggest name left off was Dustin Poirier. These two fought twice in 2021 and some parody would be good for all parties involved. There were also no championship fights mentioned. Due to McGregor’s slump in the UFC, there is no reason for him to give him a title shot. If he gets a big win in his return that discussion could be revisited. One guy who would have been on this list a couple of months ago is Tony Ferguson. Ferguson is an all-time great lightweight who also has beef with McGregor. However, after his previously mentioned knockout loss to Michael Chandler the steam left in a Ferguson and McGregor matchup seems to have evaporated. 


Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

recommended past stories

Baker Mayfield

Baker Mayfield Believes He and the Browns are ‘Ready to Move On’

Baker Mayfield Believes He and the Browns are ‘Ready to Move On’ It appears as…

Read More
Bradley Beal

If The Wizards Have Any Balls They Will Trade Bradley Beal

If The Wizards Have Any Balls They Will Trade Bradley Beal Sometimes the guy that…

Read More
UFC 276 Co-Main Event

Legacies Are On the Line in the UFC 276 Co-Main Event

Legacies Are On the Line in the UFC 276 Co-Main Event In the co-main event…

Read More
Darren Waller

Darren Waller Looks Like a 2022 Fantasy Steal

Darren Waller Looks Like a 2022 Fantasy Steal I don’t get it. I really don’t.…

Read More