5. Khabib Nurmagomedov
McGregor now holds the crown to not only the featherweight division, but the talent-stacked lightweight division as well; a division that has no shortage of elite challengers waiting in the wings for their shot at UFC gold.
One such challenger is the undefeated imposing Russian grappler Khabib Nurmagomedov. Nurmagomedov has compiled an undefeated record of 24-0 throughout his MMA career, with his most recent victory coming via round three submission when ‘The Eagle’ forced Michael Johnson to tap to his Kimura this past weekend.
Nurmagomedov has battled a string of injuries that have kept him out of action for nearly two years, after which Nurmagomedov returned to earn two dominant finish wins over his opponents. Nurmagomedov has been calling for a shot at the lightweight title for some time now, and with his recent win over Johnson he might just get the nod.
One interesting story to a possible McGregor vs. Nurmagomedov contest is the fact that security had to keep ‘Notorious’ and ‘The Eagle’ apart at UFC 205 weigh-ins, as the two heatedly exchanged words at one another.
McGregor certainly has the striking ability to trouble the Russian, as we saw Johnson rock Nurmagomedov in the first round of their contest this past weekend, but ‘The Eagle’ would ride to victory utilizing his elite grappling ability. Nurmagomedov would certainly pose serious issues for McGregor with his dominant ground game that is leaps and bounds ahead of nearly everyone on the UFC roster.
If McGregor does decide to make his first title defense against Nurmagomedov, it would be an extraordinarily difficult task to say the least.
4. Tony Ferguson
Another intriguing prospect for McGregor’s first UFC lightweight title defense is ‘El Cucuy’ Tony Ferguson.
Ferguson has been on an absolute tear in the UFC’s 155-pound division, currently riding a nine-fight win streak after having defeated former lightweight champ Rafael dos Anjos in their main event clash earlier this month. ‘El Cucuy’ possesses one of, if not the most feared D’Arce choke in the sport today that makes up three of his five UFC submission victories.
The 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu brown belt would certainly give McGregor a difficult time on the ground, as Ferguson’s wrestling should also play a factor as he is a former two-time NCWA All American champion.
Ferguson is also rather colorful with his words, similar to McGregor, but he prefers to do the bulk of his talking inside the Octagon. Ferguson’s spectacular showing against ‘RDA’ that propelled him into history as the first lightweight to rack up a nine-fight win streak should certainly put him in the running for a 155-pound title opportunity, not to mention quite the payday if he finds himself sharing the Octagon with ‘The Notorious One’.
3. Georges St-Pierre
With McGregor now becoming one of the most decorated champions the UFC has ever seen, perhaps a match-up with one of the most dominant champions the sport has ever had is in his near future.
Georges St-Pierre is ready to make his highly-anticipated MMA return, and is looking for a big money fight to do it. What fight is bigger than having the Canadian phenom ‘GSP’, who had been a dominant champion in the UFC’s welterweight division for six years, take on arguably the biggest draw the promotion has ever seen?
St-Pierre has not seen Octagon action since his controversial split decision win over Johny Hendricks in 2013, in which he defended his welterweight title for the ninth consecutive time before suddenly announcing his retirement. Since then ‘GSP’ has taken some time off to pursue other opportunities, such as taking on movie roles in Hollywood.
Now, however, it seems the former welterweight champ is ready to return to his home inside the Octagon, and a mega-fight with McGregor could be an option on the table. Many found it interesting that St-Pierre was in attendance for McGregor’s UFC 196 meeting with Nate Diaz that many expected ‘The Notorious One’ to emerge victorious in, and proceed by calling out the Canadian, but Diaz had other plans as he took home a submission win.
If McGregor and St-Pierre do find themselves squaring off inside the Octagon down the road, it will certainly be a blockbuster MMA event for the ages.
2. Nate Diaz
One of the most entertaining feuds that has had fight fans the most emotionally invested than any other rivalry to recent memory, was when Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz were going toe-to-toe in their two-fight welterweight war.
McGregor was originally scheduled to attempt to make UFC history by becoming the first fighter in UFC history to be a dual-weight champion by taking on then-lightweight champ Rafael dos Anjos at UFC 196, however, ‘RDA’ was forced out of the contest with a broken foot. Enter Nate Diaz who would go on to not only hand McGregor his first Octagon loss via round two submission, but arguably got the better of the Irishman on the microphone as well.
The loss would consume the Irishman who would force UFC President Dana White’s hand to make the rematch for the ages, where McGregor would achieve vengeance with a majority decision win in one of the best five round contests of the year. After the contest, with each man now owning a win over the other, McGregor called for a third and final trilogy bout between he and Diaz, but it would have to be at 155-pounds.
Diaz is currently the No. 4-ranked lightweight in the world, while McGregor is now the division’s champion after his recent title win. If a third and final match-up between McGregor and Diaz is made, with the lightweight title now on the line, it could quite possibly be one of the biggest fights to ever go down under the UFC banner.
1. Floyd Mayweather
It might not be in the UFC, but it’s still a fight, and quite possibly the biggest fight in combat sports history.
Conor McGregor has accomplished a slew of historical feats in his short time with the UFC, and could look to take it a step further by attempting to be the first man to ever defeat Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather inside the squared circle. Both men have expressed interest in the boxing super-fight, however, McGregor is calling for the hefty price tag of $100 million to step into the ring with ‘Money’.
Mayweather has since retired from in-ring competition, but has stated that he would be open to returning for a fight that would break box office records, having ‘Notorious’ at the top of his list for potential opponents.
UFC President Dana White has stated that any fight with McGregor vs. Mayweather must go through him, adding on that there is ‘no way in hell’ that the fight is to be made. The contest would not only crush pay-per-view (PPV) records, but would do wonders for the UFC business wise as ‘The Notorious One’ is sure to bring over a number of fans from the boxing world if he gets embroiled in a feud with ‘Money’.
As of late Mayweather has since given up hope that the fight will ever be made, but with McGregor’s name continuing to get bigger and bigger with every passing second, one can only think that the possibility is all but over:
“I tried to make the fight happen between me and Conor McGregor,” Mayweather said. “We wasn’t able to make the fight happen, so we must move on.”