Conor McGregor spent 2017 preparing for and basking in the aftermath of his $30million+ defeat against one of boxing’s GOATs, Floyd Mayweather Junior, but 2018 could see him lose his current 155lbs division belt. After winning the title 15 months ago, UFC president Dana White is now maintaining that the title will be fought for at UFC 223, in a match between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson. White has hinted that McGregor has already been relieved of the lightweight crown, going as far to mention that the winner of Khabib-Ferguson will be the champion at a recent press conference, but is still remaining coy around any return to UFC by the Notorious.
McGregor’s fight against Mayweather and the birth of his first child have been reasons behind the lengthy hiatus from MMA, and Camp McGregor is still keeping quiet about future plans both inside and outside the Octagon. White seems pretty adamant that he won’t be keeping hold of the belt automatically, but that he would have the first crack at the winner of the Khabib-Feguson fight if he wanted to make his UFC comeback. A recent Instagram post hinted at a return, showing McGregor after an MMA training session that focused on wrestling, one of Khabib Nurmagomedov’s strong points.
Despite being back in training, there is apparently still a long way to go before McGregor will be fighting at any UFC events again, with a lingering cloud still hanging over the long-awaited return. There’s no doubting that McGregor is definitely welcome back, after all he is one of MMA’s most successful fighters of all time, but he’s now in a different class of competition after his fight with Mayweather. With more money in boxing, and plenty of experts telling him that he has the right skills and technique to go far, a square ring may just be more tempting for a man who didn’t exactly look useless against Mayweather.
The ball seems to be firmly in Conor’s court, and it isn’t like he needs some quick cash right now like many other UFC fighters. His huge paycheque from the fight in Las Vegas is more than many UFC fighters can earn in a lifetime, and the big factor in any return to the Octagon will certainly be down to contracts.
Although he has given signals about a return, he is certainly in no rush and will definitely be angling for a huge cut of the profits when it comes to further fights and tournament appearances. The Irishman is hot property right now and will have a list of other opportunities several feet long, all of which could end up paying better than a return to UFC. Dana White is famously a tough negotiator and a disagreement over money and contract obligations could well be the reason by McGregor is delaying a return, and why White is happy to allow him to be stripped of his championship title.
Either way, it looks like McGregor will have to earn his title back if he does decided to return to MMA, and the focus on now UFC fans should definitely be the Khabib-Ferguson fight. The fight, taking place at UFC 223 on the 8th of April, is already displaying odds in favour Nurmagomedov, whose superior record and technical prowess could be enough to see off Tony Ferguson. Shrewd betters should take advantage of early odds now, before any market adjustments take place in the weeks running up to the event.
On a final note, a video was released from the Floyd Mayweather camp a couple of days ago, with the retired boxer alluding to an MMA fight. Almost certainly a wind up, we would love to see Money in the octagon, and of course his opponent would have to be Conor McGregor. Although it would be nice, we think this one is nearly impossible, and Mayweather would certainly have his head ripped off fairly quickly…