Coming off a historic victory at the historic Madison Square Garden, Conor McGregor is on top of the world. He beat Eddie Alvarez with a knock out in the 2nd round, and is now the champion in the 155 pound division. Oh, he's also the champion at 145 pounds, making him the first #UFC fighter to hold two belts at the same time. His post-fight speech was arguably more legendary than the fight itself (catch it below).
How long will McGregor take off?
Now that McGregor has two belts in two classes, it creates a bit of a dilemma.
Why? McGregor announced after the fight that he and his long time girlfriend, Dee Devlin, are expecting a child. This would lead one to assume McGregor is going to take some significant time off from fighting, which is bad news for Dana White. He can't have one guy hold two belts and not defend them because Dana has other mouths to feed in the UFC.
Conor McGregor also said after the fight that he wanted an equity stake in the company, and may have some leverage in that situation. McGregor holds two championship belts and is without a shadow of a doubt, the sport's biggest superstar. Could the UFC survive without him? Technically, yes, they'd survive. Thriving like they are now? Unlikely. Pay the man.
What are McGregor's options?
When he does return from paternal leave, there will be a line of guys waiting (and hoping) to fight McGregor. Who should he choose? In the 145 pound division, his opponent would likely be Jose Aldo, who McGregor has already fought and beaten. Some may say the quick knockout over Aldo was somewhat lucky and that he deserves a rematch.
I'd agree, but that isn't the fight I want to see.
In the 155 pound division there is no shortage of competition. There's Khabib Nurmagomedov, a 28-year old Russian who is currently undefeated at 24-0. There is actually a video of this man as a young boy wrestling a bear in Russia, because how else do you train in Russia? There's Nate Diaz, who he's already fought two other times. McGregor could even move up to welterweight (170lbs) and fight Tyron Woodley, who he had a verbal encounter with backstage. There was even hype about a cross-fight between McGregor and Floyd Mayweather, but that's unrealistic.
So who does he fight?
From a pure talent perspective, the best fight would probably be Conor McGregor vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov. They are both 28-years- old and fighting in their prime, and McGregor could defend his lightweight title against an opponent who is not only undefeated, but incredibly Russian. Outside of going up in weight to fight at 170 pounds against Tyron Woodley, fighting Khabib would be McGregor's greatest physical challenge.
That's not what I want to see. I want to see Conor McGregor vs Nate Diaz 3. From a financial perspective, a.k.a. the McGregor perspective, this is the money fight. Diaz won the first fight, McGregor won the second fight, now let's have a 3rd and final fight to settle the score. Unfortunately, Khabib is ahead of Diaz in the current lightweight rankings, so Dana White giving Diaz the fight over Khabib would seem unfair. I would also assume that Dana White is strongly against McGregor fighting at 170 pounds, because the only thing worse for the UFC than McGregor having 2 belts, is him having 3.
Conor McGregor vs Jose Aldo 2 would be a good fight. Conor McGregor vs Khabib Nurmagomedov would be a great fight. Conor McGregor vs Nate Diaz 3 would break the bank and is definitely the next fight I want to see.