Expected to remain sidelined until this time next year, former UFC lightweight and featherweight kingpin, Conor McGregor has been encouraged by former middleweight titleholder, Michael Bisping to return to the Octagon opposite two-time opponent, Nate Diaz for their trilogy rubber match — before even entertaining a fourth showdown with Dustin Poirier.

McGregor, who headlined UFC 264 in July — suffered a first round doctor’s stoppage TKO loss against former interim lightweight gold holder, Poirier, having fractured his left tibia in the opening round against the Lafayette native. 

In the time since, the Dubliner has suggested an immediate tetralogy against Poirier as well as a potential return to the welterweight limit for his next outing, however, the aforenoted UFC color commentator and Hall of Fame inductee, has suggested McGregor land on a trilogy pairing with Stockton native, Diaz.

Hopefully, we see that fight,” Bisping said, referring to McGregor vs. Diaz on his podcast, Believe You Me with co-host, comedian, Luis J. Gomez. “I’m not sure if he (McGregor) wants to come back, Conor I’m talking about, after what’s probably going to be about a year’s lay-off and fighting Dustin (Poirier) for the third time. You kind of want to get your whistle wet. Find your mojo, blow off that ring rust. Nate (Diaz) would be the guy.

Bisping has claimed that if McGregor defeats Diaz, who appears to be targeting a UFC 269 return against Vicente Luque in December, then a fourth pairing with Poirier could follow.

Then, if Conor beats Nate, then he fights Dustin (Poirier), because, you know, they are going to do a fourth fight. The fourth fight will be absolutely massive, but I think if I was Conor’s manager, if I was advising him, I would say, ‘take a tune-up fight’, you know what I mean?” (H/T Bloody Elbow)

Whilst McGregor and Diaz have traded barbs recently on their respective Twitter accounts, the latter is unlikely to sit and wait for the Dubliner’s return for his next Octagon bout — with a matchup opposite the aforenoted, Luque floated before the close of this year.

The pair are currently level at one win apiece from their pair of main event clashes at UFC 196 and UFC 202, with Diaz taking a submission win and McGregor a close majority decision rematch win, respectively. 

Aspiring mixed martial arts reporter based in Ireland. Follow along at @Ross_Markey on Twitter for all the latest news, fight announcements, opinion, and feature pieces.