Dana White broke the news that many people dreaded to hear recently when he suggested on Twitter that Conor McGregor would not be facing Eddie Alvarez for the lightweight title at UFC 205.
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Alvarez has been looking for a fight against the current UFC Featherweight champion since he defeated Rafael Dos Anjos to win the lightweight crown. McGregor has made it clear that he intends to become the first fighter to hold titles in two weight divisions meaning a clash with Alvarez was seemingly his next move.
We assess who the Irish superstar’s next opponent will be…
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White suggested that Khabib Nurmagomedov would, in fact, challenge Alvarez in the UFC’s first show in New York’s Madison Square Garden. The UFC president also suggested that McGregor must make a decision regarding his 145lb title.
Should the Southpaw return to the featherweight division, he will face interim champion Jose Aldo. The Brazilian is looking for revenge following a 13-second knockout last December which finally put an end to his 1,848 days as champ.
Aldo defeated Frankie Edgar at UFC 200 to be crowned interim champion and set up a potential rematch with the ‘notorious one’.
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The main event for UFC 205 is yet to be announced meaning Alvarez-Nurmagomedov is yet to be made official. Should the UFC look to schedule a different main event for their showcase event at MSG, Alvarez-McGregor could well happen before the end of 2016.
Both fighters seem keen on the fight but McGregor is unwilling to relinquish his featherweight crown to take a shot at the lightweight title. Also, many other fighters in the lightweight division, including Nurmagomedov have questioned whether the Irishman should be given the title shot considering he is yet to fight at 155lbs in the UFC.
Should McGregor choose to vacant his featherweight crown in search of lightweight gold, he could be forced to fight someone in the top ten of the power rankings before getting his shot at Alvarez.
If White’s suggestion is true, then Nurmagomedov will finally get his shot at the lightweight belt at Madison Square Garden. It what promises to be a truly fascinating bout, with the Russian currently holding an undefeated professional record, McGregor could well face the 28-year-old should he beat Alvarez for the title.
The potential bout could be an unfavourable style match-up for ‘Mystic Mac’. Whilst his takedown defence against Nate Diaz was strong, Nurmagomedov is a whole new kettle of fish. Arguably, McGregor’s biggest weakness is his ground game against a technical wrestler which was highlighted against Chad Mendes, who dealt huge damage from full guard.
McGregor-Nurmagomedov would be a huge draw for UFC fans but the fight could depend on whether McGregor decides to vacant his featherweight title and pursue a career at lightweight or goes back down to fight Aldo.
Another potential fight for McGregor is ‘Cowboy’ Donald Cerrone. Robbie Lawler pulled out of the UFC 205 fight against the American which means Kevin Gastelum will now face Cerrone at Madison Square Garden.
Cerrone and McGregor exchanged words during press conferences in the build-up to Aldo vs McGregor 2 and Cowboy stated he would ‘bend McGregor over’ if he ever stepped up to the 170 mark.
With McGregor’s last two fights against Nate Diaz being at welterweight, Cerrone could be a potential opponent should the Irishman look for a big money fight which Cowboy would provide. Cerrone has shown a willingness to fight anyone, anywhere and would be chomping at the bit to get back into the octagon to face McGregor.
Who do you think Conor McGregor will fight next?