It seems the collective mixed martial arts world may be a bit burnt out on waiting for UFC lightweight champ Conor McGregor to return to the Octagon, and one of his biggest prospective foes is no different.
Although a host of potentially massive UFC bouts, most namely a title unification bout with the winner of UFC 223’s Tony Ferguson vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov, await the controversial Irishman, McGregor has largely drug his feet concerning his return since a reported $100 million payday to box Floyd Mayweather last August.
And it’s the money tied to “Money” that appears to be driving McGregor once again, as any buzz surrounding his next fight has seemed to be focused on a potential – and farcical – MMA bout with Mayweather in the UFC. That has many justifiably wondering if he’ll ever return to MMA, a sentiment Nurmagomedov echoed during a recent interview with TMZ Sports:
In the brief spot, “The Eagle” stated that McGregor’s lengthy absence from MMA dating back to November 2016
“When is Conor compete last time in MMA? I forget about this. Yeah long time. He’s boxing guy. He’s good to stay in boxing, because you have to compete in MMA, like wrestling, grappling, completion is like 25 minutes – it’s very hard to him.”
A solid point to be sure, but lest we not forget Nurmagomedov took almost two years off himself with a litany of concerning injuries that had him wondering if he would ever compete in MMA again, so while it’s a different (and perhaps more understandable) reason, layoffs happen in a sport as unpredictable as MMA.
As for McGregor, Nurmagomedov wondered when he would actually come back, doubting that he would at all:
“But when? They talk about Mayweather fight. I don’t think he gonna come back.”
If he does not, his lightweight title would obviously have to be contested between Ferguson and Khabib, although the UFC has yet to make anything official on that front. But with rumors flying that they will do just that the day before UFC 223, “The Eagle” insists he’s “100 percent” has a contract in place to fight Ferguson for the unified title:
“We gonna fight for his belt. UFC strip his belt now, we gonna fight for real belt. 100 percent. I have contract, I have contract, like real belt. What they gonna do? They have only one real belt – they have interim belt and they have real belt. They send me contract. We gonna fight with Tony Ferguson for real belt. I have contract.”
“They gonna strip this belt. I have contract for real belt. I don’t know, maybe they don’t want him upset because he make good money. maybe? I know that I’m gonna fight for the real belt because I have contract.”
The waiting game will continue on that front, but if McGregor ultimately does not return, the sport would miss out on a massive McGregor vs. Nurmagomedov fight in Russia, a bout that could realistically be the biggest fight in UFC history.
“The Eagle” isn’t too optimistic it will ever happen, however:
“Uh, I don’t know, to be honest. I don’t know.”