There’s no telling when Conor McGregor will return to the cage, but UFC president Dana White is confident that he will.
Not that White knows whom McGregor will face, but he apparently has ruled out two options for the former UFC two-division champ.
On Wednesday, white told TMZ that McGregor (21-4 MMA, 9-2 UFC) will not be facing either the winner of Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Dustin Poirier or Jorge Masvidal, who has called for an “easy” payday by fighting McGregor.
And so, if that’s truly the case, and those options are off the table, then who should McGregor fight when he returns? That was the question we asked for our latest Daily Debate.
The results (via Twitter), which were super close:
Today's #dailydebate question for @MMAjunkieRadio: Dana White ruled out the Khabib Nurmagomedov-Dustin Poirier #UFC242 winner, as well as Jorge Masvidal, as next #UFC options for Conor McGregor. So who should McGregor fight when he returns?
To hear the MMA Junkie Radio crew weigh in, watch the video above.
For more on upcoming UFC events, check out the UFC schedule.
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After making record-setting work of Ben Askren at UFC 239, welterweight Jorge Masvidal has etched his name amongst the top contenders to UFC champion Kamaru Usman. With Usman sidelined until at least late this year, Masvidal shifted his focus to the “money fight” and Conor McGregor.
UFC president Dana White, however, recently told TMZ Sports not only is Masvidal not getting a fight with McGregor, he’s getting a big “hell no” to it.
“Masvidal is too big for Conor. (McGregor has fought at 170 before) but he shouldn’t have. I hated that he did it. Not only did I hate that he did it once, I hated that he did it twice,” White said when caught on the street by TMZ.
“There’s plenty of fights for (Masvidal) in his weight division without Conor. He’s too big for Conor. Conor doesn’t belong at 170. He’s got the balls to fight at 170, but he doesn’t belong there. Hell no.”
Just what is next for Conor McGregor, if not Jorge Masvidal? That is a good question, but one that appears to have an answer somewhere in the lightweight division.
“He’ll either be back this year or early next year,” White said of McGregor’s return. “We’ll see how this whole thing plays out in September.”
The fighters that most make sense for McGregor are all in the Top 5, but with champion Khabib Nurmagomedov unifying his belt with that of interim champion Dustin Poirier at UFC 242 in September, that bout is expected to set the dominoes of match-ups in motion, particularly when it comes to McGregor.
Nurmagomedov holds a dominant win over McGregor at UFC 229 in October 2018, so if he wins, it’s not likely that McGregor would get the rematch he wants with the Dhagestani fighter. In fact, White said emphatically that McGregor would not get the winner of Khabib vs. Poirier regardless of who wins.
“No. No (he won’t get the UFC 242 winner). But (that fight) will shake a lot of things up whoever wins that fight.”
If Nurmagomedov loses, there is a good chance McGregor would get the rematch that he so desperately wants. But there are other match-ups that make sense as well.
If Nurmagomedov wins, he’ll likely draw top contender Tony Ferguson next, although they have tried on numerous occasions to face each other, but have yet to make it to the cage. That would likely leave McGregor to face Poirier, whom he holds a victory over at featherweight in 2014 or an enticing match-up with fellow Top 5 contender Justin Gaethje.
So it appears that we’ll be waiting until at least September before we know when, where, and against whom McGregor makes his UFC return.
Jorge Masvidal can close the door on at least one of the fights he was hoping for. The boss said a matchup with Conor McGregor isn’t going to happen for him.
UFC president Dana White was cornered by TMZ Sports and asked what might be next for McGregor (21-4 MMA, 9-2 UFC), a former featherweight and lightweight champion who is approaching a year since his most recent fight.
White said he expects McGregor to be back by early 2020 at the latest. But he said the recently resurgent Masvidal (34-13 UFC, 11-6 UFC) won’t get a welterweight fight against McGregor, even though McGregor fought twice at the weight class against Nate Diaz in 2016.
“Masvidal’s too big for Conor,” White said. “(McGregor) shouldn’t have (fought at 170). I hated that he did it. Not only did I hate that he did it once, I hated that he did it twice.
“There’s plenty of fights for (Masvidal) in his weight division without Conor. He’s too big for Conor. Conor doesn’t belong at 170. He’s got the balls to fight at 170, but he doesn’t belong there. Hell no, (it won’t happen).”
As for McGregor, White also seemed to rule out him fighting the winner of the upcoming lightweight title unification fight between champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and interim champ Dustin Poirier, which headlines UFC 242 in Abu Dhabi.
“I think he’ll either back this year or early next year,” White said. “We’ll see how this whole thing plays out in September. No, (he doesn’t get the Nurmagomedov-Poirier winner), but it’ll shake a lot of things up, whoever wins that fight.”
For more on upcoming UFC events, check out the UFC schedule.
Unfortunately for team Masvidal, UFC President Dana White says it’s not happening.
“No. Hell no,” White told TMZ when asked about a fight between Masvidal and McGregor (transcript via MMA News). “Masvidal’s too big for Conor.”
Conor McGregor has fought at welterweight twice previously, both times against Nate Diaz. Yet White believes the Irishman is simply undersized for that division, which rules out a fight with Masvidal.
“Yeah [he fought at welterweight], but he shouldn’t have,” White said. “I hated when he did it. Not only did I hate that he did it once, I hated that he did it twice. He doesn’t belong at that weight.”
That being said, White does expect Conor McGregor to return to the cage in the not too distant future. He says the upcoming lightweight title fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Dustin Poirier should provide some clarity as to where the Irishman fits into the division.
“I think he’ll be back either this year or early next year,” White said. “We’ll see how this whole thing plays out in September.”
While McGregor’s return seems to be closely tied to Nurmagomedov and Poirier’s fight, White says the Irishman will not be getting a shot at the winner.
“No, but it’ll shake a lot of things up whoever wins that fight” he said.
Conor McGregor has not fought since he was submitted by Khabib Nurmagomedov in the main event of UFC 229 in October.
If not Nurmagomedov, Poirier or Masvidal, who do you want to see McGregor fight in his anticipated return to the cage?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 7/17/2019.