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02nd Mar 2019

Conor McGregor prepared to risk it all on next fight

This would be in keeping with the Conor McGregor that fans know so well

Patrick McCarry

This would be in keeping with the Conor McGregor that fans know so well

Poirier. Ferguson. Cerrone. Holloway. Silva. Iaquinta. St-Pierre.

Conor McGregor could have thrust them into the biggest [in terms of money and media attention] fight of their MMA careers, but he appears to have found his focus.

‘The Notorious’ has not fought since he lost against Khabib Nurmagomedov in the lightweight title decider at UFC 229, last October. He was banned six months for his role in an ugly post-fight brawl that broke out in the T-Mobile Arena but that suspension will expire in early April.

Donald Cerrone had been pushing for a July 6th bout with McGregor and the Dubliner, initially at least, appeared keen. McGregor tweeted, in late January, that he would grant ‘Cowboy’ a fight but UFC president Dana White now claims that fight is a non-starter.

In a wide-ranging interview with Brett Okamoto of ESPN, White said Cerrone would probably face Iaquinta next. As for McGregor, he said:

“The fight [with Cerrone] just didn’t happen. With Conor, what he really wants is Khabib. That’s the fight Conor really wants. So we’ll let him figure out what’s next.”

McGregor has previous in this regard. When he lost a 170lbs match-up with Nate Diaz at UFC 196, the Dubliner signed up to an immediate rematch and insisted fighting the Stockton native at the same weight, despite him being the reigning featherweight (145lbs) champion at the time.

McGregor has been training over in the United States this past week and posted some footage of himself grappling with former Jiu-Jitsu world champion Dillon Danis.

‘One by f***ing one’.

McGregor could have easily signed up to fight Iaquinta, Cerrone or Silva for a handier night of it and another big pay-per-view event. Instead, he appears set on a do-over against Nurmagomedov.

There is a wrinkle to this plan, however. No.1 contender – on the rankings, at least – Tony Ferguson may be bumped out of the picture for refusing an interim title bout with Max Holloway, but Nurmagomedov should be promised to the winner of the UFC 236 main event.

At a Las Vegas press event for the interim 155lbs title fight between Holloway and Dustin Poirier, White was asked if the winner got Nurmagomedov next. He responded:

“Everybody who is up here today, if they win that belt they move into the [undisputed] title fight. I saw some talk the other day – I think it was Eddie Alvarez – about how we give interim title fights so we don’t have to give as much money, or some other weird comment like that.

“When you win the interim belt, you are looked at as a title holder. So when you go into a title fight, both fighters get a share of the pay-per-view revenue. If you are a contender without the interim belt, you don’t.”

Nurmagomedov received a nine-month suspension for the UFC 229 melee so he would not be back until early July. ‘The Eagle’ has vowed he will not return until his two teammates, who were both banned for 12 months after the brawl, are back.

So, were McGregor to get his way, it may not be until October or November before he returns to The Octagon.

Lose again to the greatest wrestler in modern-day MMA – dropping to 21-5 – and that could be it for McGregor in the lightweight division.