Oh, how the mighty have fallen.
At one time, Conor McGregor was the fighter everyone wanted to face. People from other weight classes and even other promotions were clamoring to mix it up with “The Notorious.”
However, a couple of high-profile losses, a few brushes with the law, and a long streak of inactivity have taken some of the shine of the Irishman. He’s still rolling in money and he could undoubtedly still move pay-per-view numbers – but he isn’t the marquee smash he used to be.
While McGregor is still in the lightweight rankings, another man has also called the top five his home for years now. Tony Ferguson is the former lightweight champion with a dozen straight victories. While he did become the interim champion years back, a string of injuries and some personal problems stopped him for facing for the undisputed championship.
That championship will be contested for in Abu Dhabi when Khabib Nurmagomedov faces off against the current interim titleholder Dustin Poirier. According to Ferguson, he wants the winner of that fight – and there’s no place for McGregor in the equation.
Ferguson stated McGregor wasn’t his concern, saying:
“He’s like a female, like one of those ex-girlfriends. I stopped worrying about that. At first, he was in line, trying to go for the title, then once he became irrelevant, I stopped caring about the dude. Now he’s mentioning my name?”
McGregor brought up Ferguson along with numerous others during an interview with Ariel Helwani. A fight with Ferguson would be one of the fastest tracks back to the title. There’s also a chance the UFC could try and make McGregor/Poirier 2 should Poirier win the title. McGregor defeated Poirier during their time at featherweight.
Ferguson said it makes more sense for McGregor to face the loser of the title fight. While that seems logical, McGregor may not be willing to come back if it isn’t for the title. The problem for McGregor? The promotion isn’t exactly clamoring for him the way they once did.
There was a time when he was their most protected commodity. However, with Nurmagomedov bringing in a massive following from the Middle East and Russia, the UFC used his recent win over McGregor in the hype material for the upcoming card in Abu Dhabi. McGregor was shown getting beat down on the UFC’s YouTube channel. They even captioned McGregor’s infamous “it’s only business” line. Ouch!
Ferguson said he’d be willing to fight for the title in December – this would be the perfect way to cap off the year for the UFC, especially if Nurmagomedov wins. They’ve tried to put this fight together four times, and it has fallen through on as many occasions. Having the most anticipated fight in the division, maybe in the sport, on the New Year’s card would be enormous.
Will Nurmagomedov stay undefeated after Abu Dhabi? Should Ferguson get the next shot? Where does McGregor fit into the title picture and the division in general?