UFC chief Dana White has set Conor McGregor fans pulses racing with his recent interview in which he named three possible opponents for the Irish superstar. Speaking to ESPN, White said, “whether it’s Alexander Volkanovski, Max Holloway, or Nate Diaz, it’s just about getting back to training and getting back to competing”. These comments have fans eagerly anticipating McGregor’s return to the octagon, he hasn’t fought since his first-round defeat to Dustin Poirier in July of last year and with two fights left on his deal fans will be hoping he chooses the best possible opponents. Despite his recent defeats, McGregor is the biggest star in the UFC, so his next fight is sure to be a major event with coverage across multiple platforms, regardless of the opponent. As well as live coverage on pay-per-view channels, his next fight will also be covered by sportsbooks like OddsChecker who offer expert analysis and free bets that can be used to back “The Notorious”. Rumors suggest that he won’t sign a new deal with the UFC after these two remaining fights, so he’ll need to choose his opponents wisely to cement his legacy.
For long time Conor McGregor fans, and UFC watchers in general, Nate Diaz is a name which will forever be linked with the Irish fighter. Diaz handed McGregor his first UFC defeat in March 2016, with a rear-naked choke that forced him into submission. McGregor avenged his loss when they fought again in August that year, winning via majority decision at UFC 202. Both fights won “Fight of the Night”, with fans who witnessed live and those who watched at home left thoroughly entertained. Since then, there has been plenty of interest in a third fight, with the pair regularly trading verbal blows in the media. It has seemed unlikely to happen at times, but with White recently saying “the Diaz trilogy would be a fan favorite”, hopes are high that the two may finally be able to settle the score.
Hawaii’s Max Holloway is another fighter with previous experience against McGregor who may be in line for a rematch. McGregor came out on top winning by unanimous decision when the two fought in 2013 on the Shogun vs Sonnen undercard. Since that fight, Holloway has built a solid reputation with an overall record of 23 wins and six losses. He defeated highly rated Jose Aldo in 2017 to be crowned UFC Featherweight Champion, winning by TKO in the third round before repeating the feat in the rematch six months later. He is an entertaining and fierce competitor, who headlined to events last year, winning both bouts by unanimous decision. There are doubts over whether he is of the caliber to beat McGregor, although he has also lost twice to Poirier. Styles make fights though, and McGregor would be wise not to take Holloway lightly if he is to be his next opponent.
Although he may not have the star power of McGregor or the other names mentioned by White, Australian Alexander Volkanovski is a solid fighter who deserves respect. He currently holds a record of 23 wins and just a single defeat, which came before he entered the UFC. He is the current UFC Featherweight Champion, but at 33 he is running out of time to create a legacy, so he’s sure to be keen on a fight with McGregor. So far, his most high-profile victories have come against Jose Aldo and Max Holloway (twice), so he’ll be desperate to defeat a big-name fighter, to earn the respect he deserves from his peers, as well as fans and pundits.
Despite the fact the pair have fought three times already, many fans are desperate to see McGregor face Dustin Poirier again as the manner of his last victory over McGregor left some disappointed. No one ever wants to see a fight stopped by a doctor, and while Poirier certainly deserved his victory, a fight being stopped because of a leg break rather than a knockout or submission leaves a sour taste. However, in a recent interview Poirier said “I don’t really want to fight Conor again. For me, that door is closed”, so don’t expect this fight to be announced any time soon.
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Roberto Villa is the CEO, Founder, Executive Writer, Senior Editor of FightBook MMA. Has a passion for Combat Sports and also a podcast host for Sitting Ringside. He’s also a former MMA fighter and Kickboxer.
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