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08th Oct 2017

New UFC champion makes it very difficult for Conor McGregor not to accept offer

Them's fighting words

Ben Kiely

The fight that ‘has to happen’ is the next fight for Conor McGregor, according to UFC president Dana White.

Conor McGregor’s highly-anticipated UFC return will be a lightweight title unification bout. That’s what Dana White confirmed after Tony Ferguson claimed the interim strap against Kevin Lee at UFC 216.

Ferguson has won 11 consecutive fights, a divisional record, while the man sitting atop the throne has just one win in the promotion’s most populated weight class. If this fight gets booked, it will mark a fascinating match-up between the man who took the longest possible route up the ladder and the superstar who was granted his crack by incredible feats in other divisions.

It would also be the first time McGregor has attempted to defend a world title. He never put his Cage Warriors straps on the line and he was forced to relinquish his featherweight crown after defeating Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205.

Completing the trilogy against Nate Diaz was one fight many fans thought McGregor would pursue as his next move. The Stockton native was the only fighter McGregor mentioned specifically while discussing his future immediately after making his professional boxing debut against Floyd Mayweather.

However, if McGregor vs Diaz III gets booked last night, it’s going to look like ‘the Notorious’ is running from the most worthy front-runner for the next Red Panty Night. Especially after what ‘El Cucuy’ said in the UFC 216 post-fight press conference.

“I don’t care. This is chess. It’s going to be checkmate soon. He’s got nowhere else to run. Literally, he’s running out of time. He needs to defend or vacate.”

“If he doesn’t vacate, he’s going to need to defend it. I’m going to tell you what, just set it down, Conor and just fucking walk away. Nobody will get hurt.”

Considering how reluctant McGregor was to give up the 145 lb belt, it would be remarkable if he vacated the throne in order to settle the series with Diaz.