The clock is ticking down on the career of combat sports star Conor McGregor, but just who does ‘The Notorious’ Irishman need to face before he hangs up his gloves – MMA and boxing ones?
McGregor v Nate Diaz 3
Nate Diaz became the first man to beat Conor McGregor in the UFC back in March 2016. Diaz took the first fight on short notice after McGregor’s original opponent, then-lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos pulled out due to injury, and the American recorded the biggest win of his career as he rocked a gassed McGregor and then forced him to tap out to a rear-naked choke. McGregor got his revenge five months later when he won a 25-minute war via decision, but fight fans remain split as to who did win the rematch and that means there is plenty of money, and interest, in the trilogy fight.
McGregor v Khabib Nurmagomedov 2
McGregor’s heated rivalry with Khabib Nurmagomedov saw the two men finally share the Octagon in October 2018, but it was a pretty miserable night for the former two-weight champion who was dominated before being forced to tap out in round four. It was his first MMA bout for almost two years, so had ring rust played a part in his poor display? There is only one way to find out for sure – this pair need to do it all over again!
McGregor v Tony Ferguson
McGregor and Tony Ferguson have verbally sparred over the years, but that has never resulted in the two men going toe-to-toe in the Octagon. McGregor remains one of the most talented strikers in all of MMA, but Ferguson’s all-round game is up there with the very best and his relentless approach means he will throw everything at the Irishman should the two men fight. But of course, McGregor is known to be a counter-fighter, so could Ferguson’s approach play into the former two-weight champion’s hands? There is only one way to find out, and UFC president Dana White has hinted the fight could happen in 2019!
McGregor v Donald Cerrone
Donald Cerrone has never worn UFC gold, but there are no fighters more respected than ‘Cowboy’ on the planet. Cerrone has stepped in there with a who’s who of fighters, with mixed results, and whenever people think he is done he silences the doubters with a big win. Victories come no bigger than taking out McGregor and the two men have publicly declared their interest in fighting each other. The American’s desire to stand and fight means he is unlikely to drag McGregor out of his comfort zone, and that means a fight between the pair could turn into an entertaining war that fight fans may well remember for a long time to come.
McGregor v Paulie Malignaggi
McGregor’s first attempt at boxing, against Floyd Mayweather, ended in disappointment, but there is a certainly a route back to the ‘sweet science’ if the Irishman wants it. Former world champion Paulie Malignaggi has taken every opportunity to criticise McGregor since footage of the two men sparring leaked, with one image showing the New Yorker on the canvas, and if McGregor wants to prove that he can outbox and stop the ex-champion then Malignaggi will almost certainly oblige. And if he is willing, I bet McGregor would have no objection to the American crossing over into his world for an MMA contest. Either way, this is a fight that can happen if the two men want it.