UFC 257: Poirier vs. McGregor 2 is finally complete, so now fans have started to turn their attention towards what might come next for the world’s most popular MMA fighter Conor McGregor.
Below, Heavy on UFC reveals just about every possible fight that could make even just a little bit of sense for McGregor now that the dust has settled after UFC 257.
Who could the Irish superstar face next?
Here are 13 potential fights for the 32-year-old to consider after getting knocked out in the second round by Dustin Poirier on Saturday night.
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Chandler, 34, is a three-time Bellator MMA champion who is finally operating under the UFC’s promotional banner. The former All-American wrestler is a complete MMA star, one just as capable of winning fights by knockout as he is via submission.
Chandler has competed in MMA all over the world under the Strikeforce, Bellator, and now UFC promotional banners. Now, Chandler has proved he’s ready to take on the best talents in the stacked UFC lightweight division.
Nate Diaz, 35, is one of the most popular fighters in the world today. Pitting him against any of the big names at 155 will sell tons of pay-per-views, but pitting him against McGregor has already proven twice to be among the best-selling UFC events in history.
That data alone suggests the third fight could be on its way at any moment, and that both fights were such barnburners makes things even better.
McGregor and Diaz will forever be linked together as one of the most epic rivalries in MMA history. A third battle will always make sense.
Nick Diaz, 37, hasn’t competed in the UFC in over half a decade, but the American made known his intention of returning to the cage last year and the fighter seems to have made good on his promise to return to fighting form.
Just like his younger brother, Nate Diaz, Nick Diaz is one of the most popular UFC stars in the world despite a limited amount of Octagon appearances over the last few years.
Because of his star power, Nick Diaz is an easy sell to the UFC public as an opponent for just about anyone.
That includes McGregor, and the storyline of the older brother trying to avenge his younger brother’s defeat to McGregor back in 2016 is easy promotional fodder.
Rafael dos Anjos
Former lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos has enjoyed an incredible UFC career. In fact, if you look over his resume, you’ll see the fighter has consistently taken on all comers.
That dos Anjos never got to face McGregor when the two were supposed to tussle the first time over half a decade ago, coupled with the Brazilian’s excellent recent win over Paul Felder after returning to the lightweight division last year, helps make the 36-year-old ex-champ an intriguing option for McGregor now.
McGregor vs. dos Anjos would be better late than never.
Felder is coming off a loss to dos Anjos, but the 35-year-old American suffered that fate after taking the fight on just five days’ notice.
Before that, Felder was considering retirement after losing to Dan Hooker in an action-packed brawl, so Felder is probably the least likely UFC opponent for McGregor right now after UFC 257.
Still, the people over in the UFC offices might believe they still owe “The Irish Dragon” another big fight opportunity after he single-handedly saved that entire card for the company last year.
If that’s the case, there’s no bigger fight the company can offer than McGregor, so he makes our list of possible next options for McGregor.
After his stunning 12-fight win streak amazingly never allowed Ferguson the opportunity to fight for the undisputed lightweight championship, the 36-year-old American suddenly finds himself on a two-fight losing skid in which the once unbeatable fighter has suddenly become easy prey for the finish.
Still, Ferguson is one of the most popular and decorated fighters in UFC history. The veteran might simply have run into the wrong opponents in Justin Gaethje and Charles Oliveira at the wrong times.
So Ferguson makes sense as a potential option because he’s still one of the top lightweight stars in the world, and the longtime UFC fighter absolutely deserves the chance to get back on his feet.
Gaethje went on a serious tear to suddenly procure his ill-fated battle against UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov last year.
Whereas the 32-year-old American had always been an action fighter people loved to watch, his four stoppage wins in a row over the likes of James Vick, Edson Barboza, Donald Cerrone, and Tony Ferguson revealed a better version of “The Highlight” than had ever been seen before.
Of course, much of that luster was lost after Nurmagomedov submitted Gaethje at UFC 254. Still, Gaethje remains listed as the No. 1 contender in the division, and he absolutely deserves to be included in top-level fights going forward in the division.
McGregor vs. Gaethje could make a ton of sense.
Hooker, 30, from New Zealand, is a product of the famed City Kickboxing gym in Auckland. “The Hangman” is similar to that gym’s most famous fighter, UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya, in that he’s a long, lean, and mean striker who would rather kickbox his way to wins instead of taking things to the ground for submissions.
Despite his loss at UFC 257, Hooker remains one of the toughest outs in the UFC’s 155-pound lightweight division. That’s why He still makes the list as a potential option.
Nurmagomedov is 29-0 across all promotions. He’s considered one of the most dominant champions in UFC history, and he hasn’t expressed much interest in returning to the Octagon in 2021.
Still, Nurmagomedov’s victory over McGregor at UFC 229 in 2018 remains the best-selling UFC pay-per-view fight in history. A rematch could generate even bigger and better numbers than the original did, so hope will always remain alive for Khabib vs. McGregor 2.
Is there any fighter as hot right now as Oliveira? The 31-year-old dominated and stopped longtime contender and ex-interim champ Ferguson to run his epic win streak to eight straight victories in his last fight.
That makes the Brazilan 9-1 since returning to the lightweight division after a brief stay at featherweight. He’s scored the most submission wins in UFC history at 14, and he might possess one of the best styles to wreck McGregor.
Oliveira might not carry the same kind of star power as other potential matchups, but he’s easily become one of the toughest fights for anyone at 155.
Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Mayweather defeated McGregor via stoppage in the 10th round inside a boxing ring in August 2017, and the two have long been tied to a potential rematch.
While Mayweather is currently on his way to facing YouTuber Logan Paul in an exhibition boxing bout on February 20, that fight will most assuredly be so one-sided for the boxing legend that Mayweather will end up being in great shape to sign up for another lucrative megafight right after it.
Mayweather vs. McGregor sold way more pay-per-views than every UFC card in history, so the rematch might end up happening if both superstars seek another huge payday.
Pacquiao, 41, is one of the most popular boxing champs in history. He’s the only fighter in boxing history to win legit world titles in eight different weight classes and the fact that he holds one of the belts at 147 pounds right now at his age is nothing short of a miracle.
McGregor would be a huge underdog to Pacquiao inside a boxing ring, but the crossover appeal of both fighters makes that superfight an easy sell to the general public.
Besides, McGregor’s counterpunching gives him a much better chance to beat the aggressive Filipino than he had against Mayweather. By that same measure, though, McGregor has a much better chance of getting laid flat on his back early in the action against Pacquiao, too.
Therein lies the fun of McGregor vs. Pacquiao.
No matter what he says or does, YouTuber Paul has no business fighting McGregor inside a boxing ring anytime soon.
For one thing, Paul weighs a good 50 pounds more than the UFC superstar.
For another? McGregor is arguably the biggest name in combat sports today.
Paul is 2-0 as a professional boxer, but both of the 23-year-old American’s wins came against people who had never participated in professional boxing matches before.
In fact, the two fighters Paul knocked out had competed in one amateur fight between them.
Still, McGregor vs. Paul would be big money for the Irishman, and it would be an easy fight, too.
It could only go one of two ways. Either McGregor stops Paul fast or the YouTuber figures things out in time to cover and retreat. The latter leads to a severe pummeling before the stoppage win comes late.
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