Earlier this week, UFC President Dana White confirmed that a lightweight championship rematch between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor can happen if both men win their next respective fights. And according to White, there’s a real chance such a fight can happen during 2020.
McGregor returns to the UFC for the first time in over a year at UFC 246 next month, as he takes on Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone at welterweight. Meanwhile, Conor’s archnemesis, UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, is scheduled to defend his title against Tony Ferguson at UFC 249.
It’s the fifth time the UFC has tried to book Nurmagomedov vs. Ferguson, and White says the fact that has fallen through several times before is the reason McGregor asked for his fight with “Cowboy” to be at 170, rather than 155.
“Conor wants to fight three times this year,” White said. “He’s hoping if he beats Cowboy, he can turn right around and fight Khabib, but that timing isn’t going to work out. But you know Conor. His thing is, ‘I’ll fight Cowboy, I’ll beat Cowboy and I’ll be ready to fight Khabib at 155 if anything happens.'”
The awarding of a lightweight title shot for winning a welterweight fight may seem perplexing to some, especially when there are several others in the lightweight division, including Justin Gaethje, clawing for a title shot. But White says McGregor and Nurmagomedov’s beef history, as well as McGregor and Cerrone being legitimately ranked lightweights, takes precedence over Gaethje, who White claims has rejected more than one fight in the hopes of waiting out for a title shot.
“Look what Conor has done over the last, however many years,” White said. “And then he loses to Khabib in a fight that was…we’ve talked about bad blood, try next-level bad blood. Gaethje was on his way up, too; we’ve offered Gaethje a lot of fights that Gaethje hasn’t taken.”
“So, Conor is in line next for this fight if he beats Cowboy…this is a 155-pound fight that they’re not cutting weight for.”
But according to White, McGregor may have a plan ‘B’ in mind too, though one he’s personally not fond of — Jorge Masvidal.
“The other thing is that Conor has this idea that if things don’t go his way, he’ll have a 170 fight in his pocket. And he’s considering a Masvidal fight,” White said. “I think [that’s] a bad idea, but Conor gets pissed off when I say it’s a bad idea. He’s like, ‘you think I can’t beat Masvidal?’ and that whole thing.
“I’m not saying he can’t beat Masvidal, anybody can beat anybody on any given day, but why? Why go after that fight if you could possibly just wait? This is the reason that Conor McGregor is so intriguing and why so many fans love to watch him fight. And you have to love the fact that a guy is willing to fight anybody.”
Original Story: ESPN