Barring any unforeseen developments, Saturday night will be 40-year-old Floyd Mayweather’s last professional fight. But what’s next for his opponent, Conor McGregor?
A lot is going to depend on how Saturday night’s fight goes, but one thing is for sure: The 29-year-old Irishman is going to have options.
If he decides to return to UFC, it would seemingly make sense that McGregor–who won the lightweight title from Eddie Alvarez last November–takes on the winner of Tony Ferguson and Kevin Lee, who are fighting for the interim lightweight belt at UFC 216 on October 7 in Las Vegas. However, UFC president has said that the winner of that bout isn’t guaranteed a matchup with the Irishman.
McGregor is the biggest draw in UFC. He tends to fight whoever he wants to fight, and he apparently has someone else in mind.
“Conor told me he wanted to go fight Khabib (Nurmagomedov) in Russia,” said White. “Khabib’s not healthy. If Khabib gets healthy again, we’ll start talking about what’s next for Khabib.”
The 28-year-old Nurmagomedov is 8-0 in UFC and ranked as the No. 1 lightweight contender, but he hasn’t fought since a November 2016 victory over Michael Johnson. It’s unclear when he’ll be ready to fight again.
Another option for McGregor is to remain in the boxing world. This is a much more likely option if he looks halfway decent against Mayweather, but if he gets destroyed like many are expecting, the allure of the massive paycheck could be too much to turn down.
While he wouldn’t find a fight that will make him the same kind of money he’s getting for fighting Mayweather, he could find something that likely nets him a bigger payday than anything he would receive in the UFC. Paulie Malignaggi has certainly established himself as a rival during the last month, and a Paulie vs. Conor bout is something people would watch.
Additionally, as Bleacher Report’s Jeremy Botter recently noted, retirement may also be an option for the 29-year-old.
“I’ve long said he’ll never fight in the UFC again, and I stand by that,” wrote Botter. “My reporting over the years has revealed Conor to be a man greatly concerned about his long-term brain health, and $125 million means he’s accomplished both the “get in” and “get rich” portions of his game plan. The only thing that’s left? Get out.”
Ultimately, McGregor has proven he’ll fight anyone, anywhere, anytime. At this point, any decision he makes regarding his future plans won’t come as a surprise. But it’ll undoubtedly be anticipated.