As mentioned last week, Conor McGregor was eyeing a return to the UFC last month, but a broken hand stood in his way.
In an interview with ESPN’s Ariel Helwani, McGregor admitted that he was close to accepting a fight with Justin Gaethje inside Madison Square Garden, before the broken hand hampered those plans.
“I believe it was leaning towards Justin Gaethje at that time,” McGregor told Helwani. “But the game changes so quick, everyone just comes and goes. It’s a forgetful business. It is a cruel, cruel business. Only for the amount of history I’ve made, the amount of iconic moments that’s happened in my career, they would love to throw me away, discard me. Think of all the other people who have had what I’ve had that’s gone through the trauma and the battles for the fans. That’s what we do it for, we do it for the fans and for the people and then when it’s all said and done, they just discard you and it’s a cruel, cruel business.”
Another set of options is the eventual fight between Nate Diaz and Jorge Masvidal, as McGregor looked at both fighters objectively.
“Look we spent almost 50 minutes in an Octagon together. They were intense bouts. Very, very intense bouts. Nate is a crafty individual. He opened up the deck,” McGregor said about Diaz.
“Jorge’s on a two-fight win streak, the game is very forgettable when he didn’t really have a great run in the lightweight division and he’s on a two-fight streak. He was present in the arena, Nate’s a crafty individual but I didn’t feel I was being boxed out. I’ve boxed Nate out in reality. So, we’ll see what happens. If he does not want the trilogy bout, no problem. I don’t blame him. Look at the damage, look at the fights, they were intense bouts.”
Another rematch is against the current featherweight champion Max Holloway, who McGregor defeated when both fighters were just developing their reputations inside the Octagon.
“It’s certainly a fight I’m interested in, young Holloway. It’s not as easy as you think to move up a division and to challenge for a second world title. You saw that with young Max,” McGregor said of when Holloway fought Dustin Poirier for the interim lightweight crown. “I thought him coming over [to Ireland] and doing that was a little cheap, although get your money. If you’re paid to come over and do this by a brand [Jameson] that’s afraid of me and afraid of what I’m doing, that’s OK. But whatever, it is what it is.
“This is another moment where I’m almost reacting to the bait. I need to accept things the way they are, but the Holloway bout is certainly a bout I’m interested in. A lot of respect for Max. I truly do. He went through that issue that just kind of got forgotten about but I have a lot of respect for Max. He’s been through the wars, he’s been rushed and rushed and rushed, Max is definitely up there at the top of the list.”
“You know who else is at the top of the list, Frankie Edgar” the “Champ-Champ” said of the UFC legend. “Because he has similarities to Khabib,” McGregor said. “Runs on the back foot, shoots on the single leg. I want these types of similar bouts and also Frankie has been very respectful. Frankie has always been respectful. He said that he wanted to tell his grandkids that he fought Conor McGregor one day and for me to hear that, ask Dana [White], for me to hear that, this is going back many months and I messaged Dana straight away and said that’s the fight to make.
“Even though he lost the belt to Max in a close bout, I don’t care about that. Wins and losses in this game don’t mean anything. It’s the stories that we are all on, the journey that we are all on. That’s why when things get a little more personal, it does hit harder.”
When asked about Tony Ferguson, McGregor took a shot at the “warrior” for leaving Paradigm Sports Management earlier this year.
“Tony’s another warrior. I’ve got a lot of respect for Tony, also. We had Tony, Tony was looked after in our stable,” McGregor said of the Audie Attar ran agency. “All our fighters, we have a strong stable of fighters so it was wrong of him to say that, it was wrong of him to turn his back on that.
“I think for Audie and the team that were with him constantly and helped build him up and fought for him, I thought it was wrong but Tony’s also in the mix. We’ll see what happens.”
“I’m not going to wait around,” McGregor said. “Whoever. If you’re asking me who, whoever. If Dustin [Poirier] goes and it does it, Dustin. If Nate, Nate. If Jorge [Masvidal]—I don’t know what size, I don’t know what Dana’s talking about, about size and all that. I don’t even know Jorge that well, because I’ve just seen the last two and I saw the [Al] Iaquinta bout. But I mean anyone. Tony Ferguson. Justin Gaethje. [Max] Holloway rematch. [Jose] Aldo rematch.”
“There are so many bouts for me. And in reality, it doesn’t matter who. It’s just about getting back in and being who I am, not a shell of myself. Not half-committed.”
Report: MMA Fighting