Former two-division UFC champion Conor McGregor is currently on the sidelines, but “Notorious” has made it clear he plans to return to the Octagon in 2022. And there’s one potential fight that could be very enticing for the Irishman.
There are several possible match-ups for McGregor, ranging from a trilogy match with Nate Diaz to a fourth battle with Dustin Poirier. And those two specific fights are bound to be blockbuster PPV events, especially the former.
However, it may serve McGregor best to take a fight with someone that, on paper, would be less of an outright threat to him. With an 0-2 record in his last two fights, and a 1-3 spread in his last four MMA appearances, Notorious needs a victory his next time out to reignite his fans’ belief in the Irishman as being a top-tier competitor.
Diaz is as durable as they come and implements a vigorous volume-based gameplan that could wilt Notorious in the later rounds. And Poirier has proved in 2021 that he can handle the power and speed of McGregor, and serve up his own punishing blows.
When McGregor returns, he’ll likely look for a B-side that can promote the match well, but also be a relevant name in either the welterweight or lightweight rankings. And former interim UFC 155-pound champion Tony Ferguson would fit that perfectly well.
“El Cucuy” and Notorious have had a long-standing rivalry. They’ve gone back and forth on social media throughout the years, with Ferguson recently accusing McGregor of taking performance-enhancing drugs and calling him “mentally weak.”
Back in October 2021, McGregor went as far as to say he’d “end” Ferguson’s “life” inside the Octagon.
“Me and you are fighting one day mate and I gonna end your life in there full of it,” McGregor tweeted to Ferguson. “Sauce. Money. Power. I already won all the belts and the money in this game I just wanna kill one of yous rats in there now it’s the only thing left for me to do. And Watch me do it. Only on PPV.”
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El Cucuy Still Has a Big Name But Has Fallen on Hard Times
Ferguson was once referred to as the “Boogeyman” of the lightweight division, compiling a 12-fight winning streak heading into 2020. However, his unbeaten streak was snapped by Justin Gaethje in May 2020 at UFC 249 via fifth-round TKO.
Ferguson has fought twice since then, losing lopsided unanimous decisions to Charles Oliveira and Beneil Dariush. At 37 years old, Ferguson’s championship-contending days may be behind him.
However, he’s still ranked No. 7 in the 155-pound division and his unorthodox striking and jiu-jitsu game could still threaten the elite. Ferguson would likely have an advantage in the grappling department, but if they stay standing, Notorious is as lethal as they come.
If McGregor beats Ferguson, he’d notch a victory over a top-10 contender while getting back into the win column. Fans have a short memory when it comes to MMA, so a commanding defeat over El Cucuy would likely help undo some of Notorious’ disastrous 2021.
If the Irishman returned and beat Ferguson next summer, he’d line himself up for a mega-fight at the end of 2022. And knowing the UFC, it’s not impossible that McGregor could find himself fighting for a title with a win over El Cucuy.
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Ferguson Celebrates ‘Mcnugget Monday,’ Defeating McGregor Would Be the Biggest Win of His MMA Career
Ferguson has a tradition of celebrating “Mcnugget Monday” every week via social media. El Cucuy famously called McGregor “Mcnuggets” after earning the interim lightweight title at UFC 216 in 2017. Ferguson became the interim champ while McGregor was the lightweight champion, and he called out Notorious during his post-fight interview with Joe Rogan.
Watch the moment below:
Ferguson holds notable victories over the likes of former UFC lightweight champions Rafael dos Anjos and Anthony Pettis, as well as Donald Cerrone and Kevin Lee. But if Ferguson gets what he wants, a fight with McGregor, he’ll have the opportunity to earn the biggest win of his career.
And it will likely set him up for one more push toward the undisputed lightweight title.