Just days after perhaps the biggest combat spectacle of all time, the speculation of Conor McGregor‘s next fight is in full force. Many names have been mentioned as opponents for the McGregor’s return to MMA and the one that seemingly has the current UFC Lightweight Champion’s attention is Diaz vs. McGregor III.
Diaz vs McGregor III Starting to Gain Momentum
For fans that are eager to see McGregor compete once again, it seems there is not a shortage of possible opponents. Some of the fighters that have been linked to a potential bout are #1 UFC Lightweight Contender Khabib Nurmagomedov, the winner of the Kevin Lee –Tony Ferguson Interim Lightweight Championship bout scheduled for UFC 216, and even pro boxer Paulie Malignaggi.
For Conor McGregor’s return to the octagon, any of the UFC’s top lightweights are more than capable of giving the lightweight champion a very competitive bout. During the build-up to Mayweather-McGregor, UFC President Dana White was non-committal on what was next for his McGregor in terms of his UFC career.
According to Mike Bohn and Ken Hathaway of MMAJunkie.com, White was asked about if McGregor would be expected to face the winner of the Lee-Ferguson interim title bout. “I don’t know, we’ll see,” White said. “I haven’t focused on anything except this fight.” It is worth noting that prior to that fight being made, White did express that McGregor wished to fight Nurmagomedov in Russia.
Diaz vs. McGregor III – Classic Trilogy in the Making
However this time, it is directly coming from McGregor that he is specifically open to a fight with Nate Diaz. A trilogy bout with Diaz would be big business for all parties involved. Granted, it very likely would not be as lucrative as The Money Fight but exciting nonetheless.
For a third bout, Conor McGregor has been adamant that the fight takes place at 155lbs. Looking back to UFC 202: Diaz vs. McGregor 2, McGregor did express in his post-fight interview that if a third fight were to ever take place, it would be at 155lbs. A point that McGregor has once again made known is a condition of his.
“I’m the 155-pound champion. I faced him at 170, he beat me, then I rematched him at 170, I beat him,” McGregor said to the media. “Now I’m the 155-pound world champion, now if he wants that fight, he must come down.”
It would not be surprising to see some gamesmanship and mental warfare employed by Diaz and McGregor on the weight but the fight taking place at 155lbs is in the best interest for all involves. For McGregor, he gets to defend a UFC championship for the first time. On the other side for Diaz, another opportunity to become a UFC champion may not available for a long time.
Despite going 3-3 since his loss to former UFC Lightweight Champion Benson Henderson, Diaz is at the height of his popularity and was a few points on a scorecard from beating McGregor twice. This is a massive opportunity that sells itself based on the two’s past history. From the bottle throwing incident to every interview, Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz know how to work a crowd.
Which Contender will Step Up and Claim the Fight
A definitive answer for McGregor’s next bout is likely not coming in the near future. However, with McGregor reaffirming his stance on a potential third Diaz bout, it appears the wheels have already been set in motion. Even though Conor McGregor is medically suspended for two months, it would not be surprising to see him make a quick turnaround and possibly fight before the end of next year.
In the meantime, it will be interesting to see if any of Nurmagomedov, Lee, Ferguson, or even Diaz try to pull away from the pack. Putting aside the financial benefits of fighting McGregor, all of these contenders have something to prove. For Diaz, it could be said he has a head-start given their established history and his own earned popularity amongst fans.
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