In his debut pro boxing match against Floyd Mayweather, Conor McGregor proved he could not only box, but that he could take on perhaps the greatest boxer around.
Though he eventually lost the match to Mayweather, it’s doubtful McGregor’s career will stop there—if anything, the 29-year-old is just beginning.
McGregor is yet to announce who he will fight next after his summer blockbuster bout, but we’re already getting excited. Plenty of potential opponents await, including the No. 2 UFC interim champ Tony Ferguson and McGregor’s two-time rival Nate Diaz topping the list of possible fights to look forward to.
Plus, McGregor is now a Betsafe Ambassador. And we’re betting big on who we think McGregor should fight next! Take a look below at our top picks for who The Notorious should go after.
Recap: Floyd Mayweather
SOURCE: MAYWEATHER VS MCGREGOR VIA VIMEO
First, let’s recap the biggest boxing match of the century for those who missed out.
Anyone that could afford to see the historically expensive fight was treated to 10 rounds of phenomenal boxing—and a brilliant 50-0 finale to Mayweather’s career.
Conor McGregor surprised nearly everyone by how long he lasted in a professional boxing match, though in the end he was worn out by Mayweather, who dragged McGregor down until he punched himself to exhaustion. At 40, Mayweather no longer throws the same punches he used to, nor was he dodging the shots he should have, but the legendary boxer confirmed what many of us knew all along—he’s the best fighter around.
Who Should ‘The Notorious’ Fight Next?
“El Cucuy” has been making some noise lately, demanding that McGregor defends his lightweight championship belt or simply “vacate.” Both fighters have been jabbing each other across Twitter, with McGregor posting a photoshopped image of himself as a character from Grand Theft Auto, with an ominous one-word message: “Tony.”
Ferguson is currently ranked No. 2 in the MMA lightweight rankings, and recently nabbed his 10th consecutive victory with an impressive win against the indomitable Kevin Lee. Now that Ferguson holds the interim 155-pound title, it only makes sense for him to go up against Conor McGregor.
UFC President Dana White echoed that sentiment in a recent statement, saying, “Tony’s the interim champion, Conor’s the champion. It’s the fight that makes sense. It’s the fight that has to happen—it doesn’t ‘make sense,’ it’s the fight that has to happen.”
What would a UFC fight between the Notorious and Ferguson look like? According to a recent appearance on Submission Radio, McGregor’s striking coach, Owen Roddy, said “it will be an exciting fight… because Ferguson does come to fight, and he’s aggressive. He goes in. He looks to finish fights. So, it will be exciting. But… if he wants to stand and bang with Conor, it’ll be lights out fairly quickly, I think.”
If McGregor doesn’t defend his title against Ferguson right away, then chances are he’ll go after two-time former foe Nate Diaz. A lot of people expect McGregor to take on Nate Diaz, given that a trilogy fight would be a massively popular pay-per-view event. Even McGregor’s coach, John Kavanagh, expects him to fight Diaz in 2018, in a rubber match on St. Patrick’s Day.
What’s riding on the line for a McGregor vs Diaz fight? The two go back pretty far, starting when McGregor met Diaz at welterweight UFC 196 to fight up two weight classes. Diaz completely steamrolled McGregor, locking him in a fight-ending chokehold by the end of the 2nd round.
McGregor learned the hard way that weight does indeed matter, but he met Diaz again for a rematch at UFC 202. The odds were still stacked against McGregor as Diaz landed multiple combinations to tire the Irishman out, but McGregor adjusted his rhythm and came roaring back to secure the win.
The Dubliner prefers clean knockouts, having won more than 85% of his fights by KO. But for all the fast footwork and devastating inside-angle left-hand punches he throws, Diaz is just too tough for Conor’s regular strategy. To beat Diaz, McGregor needs to think quickly and adjust his tactics on the fly. Whether he’s willing to go for a trilogy match is yet to be seen, but it’s already a highly anticipated match.
The former sparring partner for McGregor, Pauli Malignaggi was recently threatened by McGregor to “bring his balls” to a showdown MMA fight. Malignaggi responded with a threat of his own, telling The MMA Hour “I’m willing to risk fighting him for free just to punch him in the mouth again, again and again.”
Will Malignaggi back up his tough talk with a proper fight? The Brooklyn native retired earlier this year, but he’s willing to return in order to put The Notorious in his place. It could be an exciting match to watch simply to see how their feud translates in the ring.
Woodley is the current welterweight champion, and for a brief time, both he and McGregor had a testy feud going on across social media, in which it seemed like they were close to trading real blows. Woodley hinted at a “super-fight” between the two, but nothing came to light, and since then the welterweight champion has had nothing but praise for the Dubliner, going so far as to repeatedly call him “a boss” and to say, “we squashed our beef… we ain’t got no beef.”
Would McGregor pick on Woodley next? Unlikely, seeing as there’s no spectacle to be gained from the fight.
As the current featherweight champion, Max Holloway would be a safe pick for McGregor to fight next. If the Dubliner would rather win outright than risk losing another primetime event, he could pick off Holloway relatively easily. But who’s ever known The Notorious to play it safe?
Who’s it Going to Be?
Even after losing to Floyd Mayweather, Conor McGregor is still a contender to watch. His passion for overcoming the odds and the delight he finds in playing the underdog makes him an exciting fighter—regardless of whether the odds are in his favour or not. Besides, he might just be Ireland’s best athlete of all time.
Whether he takes on Ferguson or Holloway, it’s safe to assume McGregor’s next fight will be just as entertaining as the last.