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07th Feb 2017

Conor McGregor receives fitting call-out from arguably his most unpredictable potential opponent

Twisting his words

Ben Kiely

The “only hammerhead” in the UFC’s lightweight division is just waiting for Conor McGregor to dip his toes back in the shark tank.

Whether the UFC’s on board or not, Conor McGregor is convinced that his next fight will be inside a boxing ring. He’s on the prowl for that money fight against Floyd Mayweather, but if that bout agreement gets dragged out as much as Mayweather’s infamous ‘Fight of the Century’ talks with Manny Pacquiao, he could be waiting a while.

An inactive McGregor presents a real problem for the UFC. Next month, the top two contenders in the 155 lb division, Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson, will slug it out for the interim belt at UFC 209. To the victor will likely go the spoils of a Red Panty Night, but if the Notorious is still trying to lock down his combat sports crossover superfight, the promotion may have to strip him of another belt he has failed to defend.

If you were to read into McGregor’s recent activity on social media, you could interpret him as dropping hints about an extended time away from the Octagon being on the cards. Tweeting out a photo of his lightweight title triumph and comparing himself to a ghost – a creature who’s not visible, but who’s presence is felt – could be construed that way.

If he’s going all in on the Mayweather fight, then this interim championship could become a fight for the undisputed title. Until McGregor is ready to return, there could well be a new king seated in that throne.

Ferguson, who will be looking to make it 10 straight victories in the UFC’s most populated division against Nurmagomedov, wants to be wearing that crown. The streaking lightweight, who’s one of the more original trash talkers in the division, responded to the ghost tweet in typical fashion.

He accused the Dubliner of trying to shirk his responsibilities as a UFC champion by jumping ship to prize-fighting pugilism in pursuit of that almighty dollar. “El Cucuy” claims that getting paid has softened him up to the point that he could no longer handle being dragged into the fire.

Ferguson’s free-form jazz striking style coupled with his stellar ground game makes him a nightmare for most opponents, but Sambo Master Nurmagomedov is undeniably the greatest grappler in the division. Whoever comes out in top in that match-up should make a very intriguing opponent for McGregor and that seismic left-hand.

That is, if he ever comes back.