Written by Chris Monti•
Conor McGregor: Who’s Next After UFC 246? Khabib, Masvidal, Usman, Diaz?
Conor McGregor’s remarkable 40-second demolition of Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone in UFC’s 246 main event presented the question of who is next in the Irishman’s crosshairs.
UFC predictions believe that Jorge Masvidal, Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao, Kamaru Usman, Nate Diaz and even Khabib Nurmagomedov were quick to get in line to potentially get a date in the calendar to fight the Dubliner. McGregor now has the luxury of cherry-picking his next adversary after ending a three-year win drought.
Yet post-fight, the ‘Notorious’ was uncharacteristically vague about his next 2020 opponent and movements. McGregor must have an idea on his next opponent, but plotting a course is another matter entirely.
McGregor Unsaddles the Cowboy
As the former two-weight UFC champion steamrolled Cerrone in just 40-seconds in the main event at the T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, it was difficult to resist the wave of vintage ‘Notorious’ nostalgia.
The build-up before this fight was damp compared to what UFC followers of the sport had come to expect from the Irishman and Cerrone, both men remaining amicable and adorning respect for one another all the way up to Cerrone’s defeat.
If you were wondering where all the venom was, it was hidden and stored in McGregor’s unforgiving left shoulder. Cerrone may be the UFC’s veteran gunslinger, but McGregor was the bandit who was quicker to the draw in Las Vegas.
The performance was classic McGregor, with the Irishman demonstrating his text-book, high-tempo start to shellshock Cerrone and have him on the canvas in the matter of a few well-drilled shoulder hits and one thunderous high-head kick.
Conor came out of his corner with electric pace, peppering Cerrone with his trademark left hand eventually clinching, where after the Dubliner demonstrated his new shoulder weapon where most of the damage was done. After repeatedly ramming his shoulder into Cerrone’s face, the ‘Cowboy’s’ nose had withstood too much and detonated into a waterfall of blood running down the American’s face.
Donald’s composure was rapidly deserting him, as the record holder of most knockouts in the sport tasted the canvas and held on in true Cerrone style. Referee Herb Dean gave the Cowboy a chance to recover, but he had seen enough after Conor rained a barrage of attacks down onto his downed foe.
Dana White’s Perfect Matchup
UFC president Dana White has made it no secret of who he thinks should be next up for the Irish superstar. Russian lightweight champion Nurmagomedov was the president’s clear favourite, having bested the McGregor in a controversial bout which erupted post-match into scenes of chaos in the Las Vegas arena in October 2018.
Nurmagomedov is scheduled to defend his title against Tony Ferguson in Brooklyn this April. White is insisting should the bout fall off — seeing as it has been postponed four times previously — McGregor should be the man to fill the vacant spot and step in according to UFC predictions.
McGregor v Diaz III Showdown
After making light work of Donald Cerrone, Conor McGregor has thrown down the gauntlet to Nate Diaz that a trilogy fight is on the cards. Conor has spoken repeatedly about his desire to settle his unfinished business with his arch-nemesis, with the pair winning one fight apiece.
Diaz stunned the Irish superstar in their first encounter, choking him out at UFC 196 before McGregor got his long-awaited revenge five months later with a majority decision win.
While McGregor is clearly interested in the third instalment, it seems president Dana White has his eyes elsewhere, admitting he hasn’t spoken to Diaz about the final bout.
McGregor v Masvidal
Jorge Masvidal is the McGregor’s trigger fight, if promoted correctly then this fight might reignite the combative and fiery trash-talking side of McGregor. Masvidal, 35, became an unlikely titan in the Irishman’s warpath and had an explosive 2019 — disposing Nate Diaz, Darren Till and Ben Askren.
This fight breeds viewers, with Masvidal’s brand being red-hot at this moment in time. We are Guaranteed that both fighters share a trash-talking bravado which will light up the UFC stage before the first bell rings.
On the other hand, this fight has no real stake for Conor and Masvidal seems an unnecessary risk for McGregor to take when protecting his UFC legacy.
McGregor v Usman
McGregor’s lust for making history and breaking records might turn his head to ‘The Nigerian Nightmare’. A risk to become the first three-division champion in UFC history might be a temptation too strong for the Irishman to avoid.
It’s another unlikely matchup but Usman will be gunning to get his teeth into another titanic duel after swotting aside Colby Covington, knocking the outspoken Trump supporter down twice before claiming victory.
The Nigerian born American is not as marketable as the other fighters and even though Conor recorded his first victory against Cerrone at 170 pounds, it is still to be determined if he can maintain the weight and compete in the division.
McGregor v Khabib
The previous bout between the two men was a bigotry-fuelled brawl that ended spilling out of the octagon into each other’s camp. After the mayhem subsided, both the teams were carted out with more than bad blood running through their veins.
McGregor lost their first encounter via submission in the fourth round, suffering his second defeat in the sport. Nurmagomedov boasts an astonishing record of 28-0-0, with 8 TKO's and 10 submissions — being viewed as the best pound for pound fighter ever to grace the sport.
Before the logistics are ironed out for a potential McGregor vs Nurmagomedov 2, Khabib has the little matter of stepping into the ring with Tony Ferguson in UFC 249.
Despite some of the red flags, this is arguably the biggest fight that could be made in UFC’s history. According to the president and our MMA predictions, Khabib makes the most sense for the Irishman but this fight will be coined as some sort of legacy bout, with both fighters laying everything on the line.
Whatever avenue McGregor ventures down, the world is sure that the UFC superstar will trade barbs, trash talk and prove to the world that Irishman’s future is far from finished. Even after McGregor’s time away from the sport, Notorious is still holding all the cards.