UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor’s blockbuster battle with undefeated pugilist Floyd Mayweather Jr. is now in the rear-view mirror. With this boxing match behind him, McGregor is now expected to return to his former haunts in the UFC’s Octagon – though it’s also possible he sticks to the world of boxing for a sizzling grudge match with Paulie Malignaggi.
If McGregor does in fact return to the Octagon, he has several options as far as opponents go. There’s his arch rival Nate Diaz, with whom he is tied 1-1 across two exciting fights. There’s the undefeated Russian Khabib Nurmagomedov. There is returning former UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre. There’s reigning UFC welterweight champ Tyron Woodley. And of course, there is Tony Ferguson, who captured the UFC’s interim lightweight title with a submission of Kevin Lee at UFC 216.
Though nothing is official just yet, this bout with Ferguson seems like the most likely option on McGregor’s menu. UFC President Dana White has assured this lightweight title unifying showdown is what’s next for both men, and we certainly know this is the fight Ferguson wants next.
“Where you at, McNuggets, you f**kin’ piece of s**t?” Ferguson bellowed into Joe Rogan’s microphone shortly after he submitted Lee. “I’m gonna kick you’re a**. You better f**kin’ come and defend that belt. Defend or vacate, motherf**ker!”
The setting for this potential title unifier is not yet known – though UFC 219, which is scheduled for December 30 in the combat sports Mecca of Las Vegas, has been widely suggested.
Whenever, wherever this fight ends up occurring, it’s bound to split fans down the middle, with some confidently picking Ireland’s McGregor, and other unflinching picking Ferguson. The opening odds for this fight, which were released just days ago, reflect this reality.
These opening odds, which come from the sportsbook Unibet, list McGregor at a slight favorite, and Ferguson as a slight underdog.
Opening odds: Conor McGregor (-162) vs. Tony Ferguson (+120)
As stated above, Conor McGregor’s last contest saw him step through the ropes of the boxing ring, where he battled undefeated boxing legend Floyd Mayweather Jr. Though McGregor put up a valiant fight, winning the opening rounds in the eyes of many onlookers, he ultimately faded down the stretch and succumbed to a volley of 10th round punches.
McGregor’s next most recent bout occurred in the Octagon, back in November of 2016, when he authored a flawless, second-round knockout of Eddie Alvarez to capture the UFC lightweight title.
McGregor’s two previous bouts, finally, saw him go 1-1 in a pair of welterweight bouts with Nate Diaz, losing the first fight by submission in a 2016 Upset of the Year contender, and winning the second by decision in a 2016 Fight of the Year contender. McGregor is 21-3 overall, and 9-1 in the UFC’s Octagon.
Ferguson, on the other hand, last fought at UFC 216, capturing the UFC’s interim lightweight title with a third-round submission defeat of Kevin Lee. This interim title was created by the UFC in an effort to keep the lightweight division moving in McGregor’s stead.
Ferguson’s next most recent contest occurred in November of 2016, when he defeated former UFC lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos with a thrilling, five-round decision. That said, he was briefly scheduled to fight Khabib Nurmagomedov back in March.
The winner of The Ultimate Fighter season 13, Ferguson is currently on a fantastic 10-fight win-streak, highlighted by wins over top-flight foes in Danny Castillo, Abel Trujillo, Gleison Tibau, Josh Thomson, Edson Barboza, Lando Vannata, Rafael Dos Anjos, and Kevin Lee. He is 23-3 in sum, and 13-1 since joining the UFC roster.
(Images courtesy UFC)