Masvidal? Diaz? Aldo? Ferguson? Who Conor McGregor should fight next
Even when he’s not fighting Conor McGregor’s name generates website clicks and newspaper column inches whenever he’s mentioned. And his name has resurfaced once again after Jorge Masvidal’s management stated that he would fight only McGregor or UFC welterweight champ Kamaru Usman in his next bout.
It prompted UFC president Dana White to pour cold water on the idea, saying Masvidal was too big for the Irishman.
But White did say McGregor could be set to return at the end of this year or early in 2020. So who should he face in his comeback fight? Let’s take a look at the 5 best options for “The Notorious”…
1. Nate Diaz
The obvious pick, and potentially the hardest one to make. Diaz has been out of action ever since his second fight with McGregor at UFC 202, but is set to return against former lightweight champ Anthony Pettis at UFC 241.
The pair have faced-off twice before, with Diaz’s stunning submission win at UFC 196 handing McGregor his first loss inside the octagon as he gave his now immortal post-fight reaction: “I’m not surprised, motherf*****s!”
A rematch was inevitable, and McGregor insisted on the same conditions, fighting at 170lbs, to avenge his defeat. And after one of the best fights in UFC history, McGregor took a majority decision to even the series at one win apiece.
With each man holding a victory over the other, a trilogy battle to settle the score seems like a no-brainer to me. The big question is, can the UFC make both men happy enough to agree to the fight?
2. Jose Aldo
Yes. Jose Aldo.
The simmering rivalry between McGregor and the Brazilian came to a head after a lengthy world tour as the clamour for the pair to meet at UFC 189 reached fever pitch. Then Aldo pulled out with a rib injury and McGregor captured the interim feathweight title, making their eventual meeting for the unified title at UFC 194 absolutely colossal. I was on press row for that fight, which remains one of the most jaw-dropping moments I’ve ever experienced watching this crazy sport.
McGregor’s counter left hook connected clean, Aldo face-planted and it was all over in just 14 seconds. Aldo wanted a rematch, but clearly it wasn’t appealing to McGregor. After all, how do you improve on a 14-second, one-punch KO?
But a lot of water has gone under the bridge since then, and both men could be ideally placed for a rematch at 155lbs. It would be the huge rematch Aldo has wanted ever since that defeat, and it would give McGregor a big-name fight to come back to that wouldn’t see him unfairly jumping any title-fight queues.
3. Tony Ferguson
This is another matchup that makes a lot of sense. Ferguson is waiting to get back into the octagon and fight for the title, but with Khabib facing Dustin Poirier in Abu Dhabi, “El Cucuy” may have to play a waiting game.
He can either sit on his hands and wait for his shot, or he can take another fight. And the most appealing option would undoubtedly be a fight with McGregor. It would be the biggest payday of his career, he firmly believes he has Conor’s number and it would give him huge momentum heading into a title fight early in 2020.
Ferguson seems happy to wait for his shot at the winner of Nurmagomedov-Poirier, so unless the UFC throws a truckload of cash his way, this one might not be likely.
4. Jorge Masdival
Yes yes, I know Dana White said he didn’t like the fight, and said Masvidal was too big for Conor, but pump the brakes on that for a second.
Firstly, Masvidal is smaller and has a shorter reach than Nate Diaz, who McGregor has faced TWICE at 170lbs. He’s also shorter than the last man McGregor faced, lightweight champ Khabib Nurmagomedov. So don’t let that size comment fool you.
Literally the only reason for the UFC not to put McGregor and Masvidal in the cage is if “Gamebred” has secured the next shot at the UFC welterweight title currently held by Kamaru Usman.
That aside, Masvidal and McGregor has all the ingredients to be one of the biggest UFC fights in a long, long time.
One is a trash talker, the other hates trash talk. Both have spectacular quickfire one-shot KO finishes in big fights. And both men have that sort of fighting spirit and fan interest that would make a clash between the pair absolute must-see TV. And in the new ESPN era, the lead-up to this matchup would be absolutely huge in the States.
For my money, this is the fight to make. Let Colby Covington face Usman next (if he gets past Robbie Lawler), and book Masvidal and McGregor for the final Las Vegas card of the year on December 14.
5. Khabib Nurmagomedov
Why not? Did you see the first fight? It was a one-sided beatdown from Nurmagomedov. And while I’m convinced McGregor will come back much stronger, and better, in a rematch, he needs to earn that fight.
A win over Ferguson would be the best option to push him towards a rematch with the Russian. But if Poirier shocks the world and defeats Nurmagomedov in Abu Dhabi, expect McGregor to be right in there with a shot.
The Irishman is one of only two men to stop Poirier with strikes, way back at UFC 178 in 2014, and his previous win could immediately push him back into the mix if “The Diamond” wins.
But whoever McGregor faces next, it’s sure to be another colossal fight. And if it’s any of the names listed above, it won’t be a gimme fight, either.