In the days following the biggest event in UFC history, everyone who witnessed the fight was left talking more about the brawl after the main event than the fight itself.
Post-fight, no one seems to be talking about what is next for the UFC’s most marketable man, Conor McGregor.
Khabib Nurmagomedov, the defending lightweight champion, finished the fight via rear naked choke in the fourth round. The entire fight was essentially a one-sided beating minus about 30 seconds in the third round.
The only comments McGregor made about the fight were two tweets. The first stated, “Good knock. Looking forward to the rematch.” The second tweet stated, “We lost the match but won the battle. The war goes on.”
Unless he is referring to the $3 million he made for the fight, he didn’t win any match or battle. Also, it looks to be a pretty one-sided war. However, that is just McGregor’s usual, endless self-promotion. It’s more important to know, however, is if there will be a rematch.
For the UFC to put together a rematch right away would be ridiculous. The fight was not competitive in the least. They let McGregor cut the line of contenders once simply because he never actually lost the belt in a fight. The lightweight division has too deep of a roster for an immediate rematch.
Tony Ferguson, who was the former interim lightweight champion, is now on an 11-fight win streak after defeating Anthony Pettis at UFC 229. Ferguson was stripped of his title because he injured his knee and the UFC didn’t want to wait for his return. Now he is back and offers Nurmagomedov a much more challenging fight than McGregor.
There is really only one fight that makes sense for McGregor right now and that is Nate Diaz. McGregor would make a bunch of money and the fans would finally get the conclusion to one of the most anticipated trilogies in sports history.
Diaz hasn’t fought since his last fight with McGregor, which did $1.65 million in pay-per-view buys. With McGregor coming off of a loss, it is a much more plausible fight than if he was still the champion.
Stylistically, it is a much more entertaining fight for the masses than a rematch with Nurmagomedov. While UFC 229 was the most pay-per-view buys in UFC history, with over $2 million, it was a very situational fight. Had this not been McGregor’s comeback fight and had the incident in New York not happened, this fight would not have done nearly as well.
While it was the most hyped up fight since McGregor vs. Mayweather, it had the same result. McGregor losing to a fighter he only had a small chance against.
Diaz on the other hand is a very different story. While it is true that on that ground, Diaz is much more experienced and could most likely win the fight with only moderate resistance, the first two fights have shown us that Diaz wants to stand up.
McGregor is the more well-rounded striker when factoring in his kicks and the power in his left hand, while Diaz is much more of boxer who throws the occasional kick. However, that is where McGregors advantage ends.
Diaz has proven to have much better cardio and an iron chin over his long career, where McGregor has been gassed and stopped in three of his last five fights.
While I think it is Diaz who would win this third fight, he had better finish it if he hopes to get his hand raised. There were many who thought he won the second fight but was robbed in order for McGregor to save face and set up the trilogy. If McGregor needed a win then, he definitely needs one now in order to avoid the nail in the coffin of his career.
But it could all be in vain. Should McGregor lose to Diaz, it would seem his status as the best fighter in the world would no longer stand. His only move then would be to beg Dana White to create a 165-pound division so he would have a chance of being champion again.
Should he somehow beat Diaz, he would most likely get a rematch with that would almost certainly end in the same fashion as the first.
At that point he would have two options. He could wait for Nurmagomedov to retire to regain his title, which would leave a DC-Jones sized smudge to his legacy. Secondly and more likely given that with $100 million sitting in his bank account, he could retire back to Ireland to sell mediocre whiskey and fade into the distance of fight-fans memories.