How Coronavirus Could Impact Conor Mcgregor’s Next Fight

UFC's Conor McGregor

Getty UFC's Conor McGregor

The COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak is causing mass chaos to sports schedules around the world, so it’s fair to wonder how the massive pandemic might affect the future of the UFC’s biggest superstar Conor McGregor.

Before basically everything in the world was being suspended and canceled, which was just a few days ago, many observers believed the 31-year-old Irish fighter had a handful of options on the table.

But with all the added and ever-moving parts to the new equation, one wonders if McGregor will be getting back to the Octagon at all this year.

Here’s a rundown of the many different ways the coronavirus outbreak could potentially impact McGregor’s next fight.

Will Any UFC Fights Continue?

UFC president Dana White revealed his plan for managing the promotion’s upcoming fight schedule after the outbreak, and the good news is that the UFC does plan on continuing to promote fights.

While there hasn’t been any word yet on what the UFC plans to do with UFC 249 in Brooklyn, which is currently scheduled for April 18 in a city that’s since decided to ban crowds of 500 or more, White’s plan essentially calls for moving two other scheduled UFC cards to the company’s Apex Facility in Las Vegas.

The bad news, of course, is that the situation is changing daily, so White’s plan for moving the UFC’s March 28 and April 11 cards from other U.S. cities to Nevada could be nixed by authorities at any moment.

If they aren’t, though, it would seem like the UFC could potentially continue to produce fights, including pay-per-views, at a somewhat normal rate. If that happens, McGregor’s next fight could be one of those upcoming UFC events at the Apex Facility in Las Vegas.

Does UFC 249: Khabib vs. Ferguson Actually Happen?

The most important thing that could affect McGregor’s schedule is whether UFC 249 happens. No matter where that fight might take place, UFC 249 moving forward is vital to determining McGregor’s next opponent because both McGregor and UFC president White seemingly want to position McGregor for the rematch against UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov.

But if UFC 249 is canceled or significantly delayed, and Nurmagomedov refuses or is simply unable to schedule another fight in the meantime, it would make sense for McGregor to go one with his career without waiting for the winner of UFC 249 to emerge.

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McGregor’s Most Likely Opponent Options

McGregor’s most likely options include lightweight contender Justin Gaethje and welterweight stars Nate Diaz and Jorge Masvidal. Gaethje would be the most logical choice for McGregor’s next fight in any circumstance, but that would especially be the case if the Irishman was hoping to earn contender status at lightweight.

But if he’s not? If Nurmagomedov’s next title defense is delayed by the pandemic? And if his upcoming Ramadan fast keeps the champion from rescheduling his defense against Ferguson for the rest of the year?

In that case, it would seem like McGregor might just stay in the welterweight ranks against either Diaz or Masvidal.

Why Diaz and Masvidal Might Make Sense Over Gaethje

Beyond chasing Nurmagomedov, McGregor seeking superfights against Diaz and Masvidal makes way more sense than his facing Gaethje.

Both of those fights would likely sell more pay-per-views than McGregor vs. Gaethje. Moreover, both would allow McGregor the chance to prove he seriously belongs in the 170-pound division. McGregor split fights at 170 against Diaz in 2016, but his only other fight in the division came against lightweight contender Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone at UFC 246.

Winning the trilogy against Diaz would help prove he’s a legit welterweight contender and perhaps even give him the chance to fight for a UFC title in a third different weight class. Facing and defeating Masvidal would do the same thing, and both potential fights would be easy to sell to the general public.

McGregor’s Next Move Remains Unknown

McGregor’s next move was already a hugely debated topic in MMA circles, and it seems like the worldwide pandemic will cause it to be discussed even more. The additional moving parts create massive confusion about what UFC fights will happen and where, and the story is probably going to change every single day for the next few weeks.

One thing is clear, though.

McGregor heading back into the Octagon in the next few months would provide a welcome distraction for combat sports fans everywhere. Whether it’s in rematches against Nurmagomedov or Diaz, or epic first bouts against Gaethje, Masvidal or someone else, finding out who McGregor’s next opponent will be is going to be a hot topic.

And hot topics like this are good, especially for those burdened by the coronavirus pandemic events that seems to be its way to changing everyone’s lives for the foreseeable future.  It allows for a needed break from fear and anxiety, and it helps provide a modicum of normalcy to a scary situation.

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Twitter: @Kelsey_McCarson