UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor is yet to announce his return to the Octagon. However, several MMA fighters have already expressed their intentions to fight “The Notorious”. Here is SportsRageous’ list of fighters who could face McGregor in 2017.
5. NATE DIAZ
The McGregor-Diaz rivalry started at UFC 196 when Nate Diaz replaced Rafael Dos Anjos. McGregor aimed to become the first dual-weight champion but his opponent pulled out due to injury. In their first bout, Diaz won via submission in the second round.
McGregor and Diaz had a rematch at UFC 202 where “The Notorious” won via majority decision. As most people are expecting, a trilogy bout will happen between the two fighters in the near future. However, McGregor insisted that their third fight should take place at 155.
4. TYRON WOODLEY
Tyron Woodley is the reigning UFC welterweight champion. After McGregor won his second belt, some people believed that he’ll be moving to another division for his third belt. Woodley isn’t closing his door on fighting “The Notorious” and offers to fight him in Ireland. “We can do it in Ireland; Dublin, we can do it in the back of Whitecastle, I don’t care,” Woodley said. “Just know I ain’t that guy […] if you wanna scrap, if you wanna make this money, let’s do it. If you don’t, shut your mouth.”
3. TONY FERGUSON
Tony Ferguson ranks No. 2 in the lightweight division. After winning nine consecutive bouts, he believes that the UFC should give him the chance to fight for the title. “This is the fight game,” Ferguson said. “I’m not worried or scared about absolutely anybody who’s not talking about me. That dude (McGregor) does not want any part of me. Everybody’s talking about him being the best, the best, the best. I’m No. 2. I’m the only name that he hasn’t thrown out there in the wind.”
Khabib Nurmagomedov challenged Ferguson for the interim lightweight belt. But the latter turned down the fight, saying that he won’t accept fights from “peanuts”. Ferguson remains confident that he could face McGregor and steal the UFC lightweight belt.
2. JOSE ALDO
After McGregor relinquished the belt, Jose Aldo automatically became the new undisputed UFC featherweight champion. Aldo expected to face Max Holloway at UFC 208 to unify the belt. Unfortunately, Holloway turned down the fight due to several reasons. In an interview with Ariel Helwani of MMA Fighting, Aldo revealed that he’s eyeing to fight in March for the interim lightweight belt.
“I now expect and believe I will be fighting in early March. Either March 3 or March 4, I can’t remember. I believe they will soon announce an interim lightweight title fight with me,” Aldo said. With Aldo aiming for the interim lightweight belt, it’s easy to say that he’s still eyeing to fight Conor McGregor. Since UFC 194, Aldo has been patiently waiting for his rematch against “The Notorious”. However, until now, McGregor shows no interest to face him again in the Octagon.
1. KHABIB NURMAGOMEDOV
Khabib Nurmagomedov remains undefeated and currently the No. 1 contender in the lightweight division. After defeating Michael Johnson at UFC 205, the Russian MMA fighter called out McGregor and challenged him for the title. UFC president Dana White recently revealed that they’re planning to schedule a fight between McGregor and Nurmagomedov in Russia.
“We’re focused very heavily on Russia right now,” White said. “First of all, there’s tons of talent coming out of Russia, and a lot of fans. There’s a fighter named Khabib who’s from Russia, and he’s insanely popular. The next fight could be Conor vs. Khabib.” Recently, Conor McGregor denies White’s claim that he’ll be taking a “10-month off”. “The Notorious” reveals that he could return earlier in 2017 but didn’t give any information regarding his next opponent.
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