Conor McGregor’s return fight at UFC 246 was over within the blink of an eye as he knocked out Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone in just 40 seconds.
The quick fight begs the question, who’s next?
Though a Floyd Mayweather rematch is constantly discussed, a rematch with Khabib Nurmagomedov seems to be the most obvious move after Nurmagomedov, the current lightweight champion, defeated McGregor in the Irishman’s last fight 15 months ago. It’s also the fight UFC president Dana White wants.
“When you look at what makes sense, we’re at a place right now where Conor was saying going into the Khabib fight, he had lots of personal stuff, some stuff self-inflicted, he had injuries, he had all these things going on. And he has been obsessed with getting that rematch because he knows that he wasn’t 100 percent right,” White said after McGregor beat Cerrone. “When you look at this for Khabib, Khabib is 28-0, he’s undefeated right? You start talking about this kid’s legacy — first of all, to go 28-0 in this sport, I don’t care who you fought, that’s tough to do.
“This guy’s a world champion, and after tonight and with how Khabib won the first time and how famous Khabib has become since that first fight, we’re looking at like [Marvin] Hagler-[Tommy] Hearns; we’re looking at like [Muhammad] Ali-[George] Foreman, Ali-[Joe] Frazier. This is a massive fight with global appeal. It’s the fight that you make, it’s the fight that makes sense. It’s for the 155-pound title.”
That assumes, of course, that Nurmagomedov retains the title. He’s scheduled to defend it against Tony Ferguson in the main event of UFC 249 on April 18 at Barclays Center. With McGregor barely breaking a sweat Saturday night in Las Vegas, he may fight again before then, or perhaps around the same time.
“The lightweight title will be there,” McGregor said. “The who doesn’t matter for me now. I’m looking at dates.”
Mayweather teased fans of the fight game after McGregor’s win by posting a mock photo on Instagram of a Mayweather-McGregor rematch from their 2017 boxing bout; Mayweather also posted one teasing a Mayweather-Khabib fight. It’s unclear if a Mayweather-McGregor rematch is already in the works, but White and Mayweather are going to do business in 2020.
“We’re doing something with Floyd,” White said. “Floyd is in our plans and we are in Floyd’s plans this year, and we’ll end up doing something.”
“That rematch will happen at some stage,” McGregor added.
White seemed uninterested in McGregor fighting welterweight star Jorge Masvidal, but one other name was brought up to McGregor Saturday night: Nate Diaz, who handed McGregor his first UFC loss in March of 2016 before McGregor got revenge five months later. A trilogy fight could have mass appeal.
“Let’s go, Nathan,” McGregor said. “Let’s go brother. No. 3. It’s always here. We’re right here Nathan.”