The Irish-born Lightweight Champion is undoubtedly the biggest star in Mixed Martial Arts. Conor McGregor can not only promote a fight, he can also be counted on to deliver exciting action when he steps in the cage. His list of accomplishments includes winning the Featherweight Championship in 13 seconds, holding two UFC titles simultaneously, and being the biggest pay-per-view draw in Mixed Martial Arts. An impressive list of accomplishments for an athlete who at 28 years of age, and just entering his prime. However, despite his list of accolades one of the biggest reasons McGregor has become such a huge star is his ability to talk trash. The Irishmen has never been shy about speaking his mind or issuing a challenge. His trash talk has caught the attention of fighters outside his weight class, professional boxers, and even WWE Superstars.
There is certainly no shortage of people out there who would love to step in the cage with McGregor. This is in no small part due to the fact the man from Dublin sends pay-per-view buy rates through the roof, which in turn means big money for his opponents. While money is certainly a motivating factor for some, there is also likely a few fighters who would just like to shut him up. Let’s take a look at which fighters should get a shot at the champ and which fights we would just as soon skip.
15. Need: Khabib Nurmagomedov
The grappler from Dagestan, Russia is one of the most feared fighters in the entire lightweight division. He has 24 consecutive wins, the most in modern MMA history. In fact, since joining the UFC, no one was even come close to defeating The Eagle. Nurmagomedov was originally slated to fight Eddie Alvarez, for the lightweight belt. However, the UFC ultimately opted to go with McGregor who would go on to defeat Alvarez for the title. Nurmagomedov was furious at the organization’s choice to give McGregor the title shot and referred to the UFC as “freak show”. There is defiantly some bad blood between Nurmagomedov and the Irishmen. This fight will probably happen sooner of later. Assuming this fight does eventually take place, it will interesting to see how McGregor is able to hold up against Nurmagomedov’s smothering ground game.
14. Don’t: Anderson Silva
The Brazilian Legend has recently expressed interest in a fight with Conor McGregor. Yes. Anderson Silva will go down as one of the greatest MMA fighters of all time. However, this fight doesn’t really make any sense. Firstly, Silvia has spent most of his UFC career at middleweight which means McGregor would likely have to go up two weight classes in order to make the fight happen. While McGregor has fought in higher weight classes before, this potential fight would hold up the entire lightweight division. Moreover, Silva is 41 years old and has lost 4 of his last 5 fights, with the other being a no contest against Nick Diaz. Silva isn’t the same fighter since the horrific shin injury he suffered during his bout with Chris Weidman. A fight with McGregor when Silva was in his prime may have been interesting. However, at this point, there are a lot more intriguing match-ups out there.
13. Need: Donald Cerrone
The two have exchanged verbal jabs in the past and clearly, don’t like each other. Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone is one of the most active fighters in the UFC and would no doubt love an opportunity to silence McGregor. Cerrone is also a fighter who is usually willing to stand and bang, which is also McGregor’s forte, making this potentially an exciting match up. McGregor has expressed interest in fighting for the welterweight belt in the past. A win against in high profile welterweight like Cerrone could strengthen his case for a shot at the title. Although the Cowboy recently suffered an upset loss at the hands of Jorge Masvidal, he is still ranked near the top of the division and is one of the more popular fighters in the UFC.
12. Don’t: Floyd Mayweather
There has recently been a lot of media buzz about a potential boxing match between Connor McGregor and boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. Mayweather’s nickname is “Money”, which is especially fitting in this instance since this fight would be little more than a cash grab for both men. McGregor has excellent MMA boxing. However, that doesn’t mean he belongs in the ring with one of boxing’s all-time greats. Especially when you consider McGregor has never boxed professionally. Don’t be fooled by the hype, this would be a huge mismatch. It would also be a very expensive pay-per-view to purchase given the amount money it would take to actually make this fight happen. There are so many interesting fights for McGregor in MMA, we don’t need to go here.
11. Need: Nate Diaz
Regardless of what UFC president Dana White says, it’s hard to imagine there won’t be a third bout between these two. The rivalry is tied with each fighter winning one of the first two bouts. The fights both did a ton of pay-per-view buys and there is certainly plenty of fan interest. The opportunity for the UFC to promote the third fight and refusing to do so is the equivalent of a baseball player being thrown a fastball down the middle, but refusing to hit it out of the park. The rivalry needs to reach its conclusion. We can’t have it end at 1-1 and be left to wonder who would have actually won the rubber match? UFC isn’t known for leaving money on the table, so don’t be surprised if we do wind up seeing a third contest between these two.
10. Don’t: Rafael Dos Anjos
Prior to having to withdraw, and eventually being replaced by Nate Diaz, it was Dos Anjos who was originally slated to defend his Lightweight Championship against McGregor at UFC 196. Trash Talking isn’t one of the native of Rio de Janeiro strengths, which meant most of the interest in the match was predicated around McGregor trying to win a second title. The Irishmen even admitted that he really had no interest in fighting Dos Anjos other than trying to win the belt. Dos Anjos is coming off of two consecutive losses and a match with the reigning lightweight champ really isn’t on anyone’s radar anymore. At this point, we can probably skip this fight altogether.
9. Need: Nick Diaz
No. I’m talking about Nick, not Nate. This wouldn’t be a hard fight to sell, few Nick Diaz fights are. You already have the built-in storyline of Conor attempting to defeat the second Diaz brother. Both Nick Diaz and McGregor know how to sell a fight and the trash talk in the buildup to this one would be epic. Moreover, this is another instance where you have two fighters that don’t like to go to the ground, so fans who love a good stand-up war should be in for a treat. This fight would require McGregor to go up a weight class, but if the money’s right, the UFC would likely allow it. Diaz has already had some choice words for the Dublin product, which could generate additional fan support for the match. It’s possible that Nate isn’t the only Diaz brother we see in the Octagon with Conor McGregor.
8. Don’t: Cole Miller
Long time McGregor fans may remember that this fight was supposed to take place back in 2014. Miller was going to head into enemy territory and face the rising star in his hometown of Dublin. Miller and McGregor exchanged words in the lead up to the fight. However, Miller wound up pulling out of the fight due to an injured thumb and was replaced by Diego Brando. Since that time the man they call “Magrinho”, which means skinny in Portuguese, has been on an extended losing streak. Miller’s last victory in the octagon was in January of 2014. Since the scheduled bout in Dublin, the two men’s careers have gone in very different directions. It’s nearly impossible to imagine a scenario where this fight takes place now.
7. Need: Jose Aldo
I know, McGregor knocked him out in 13 seconds, so why on earth should they do this one again? Well, the answer is actually in the question. Defeating Aldo is 13 seconds is an amazing accomplishment, but what would have happened if Aldo was able to settle in. Who would have gotten the better of the exchanges in the middle of the cage? Aldo was the most dominant Featherweight Champion in UFC history and riding an 18 fight win streak, prior to the McGregor loss. We know Aldo is certainly capable of a better performance and probably deserves a chance to avenge the loss based on his track record. Was McGregor’s first win a fluke or does he just have Aldo’s number? If Mcgregor ever does decide to go back down to featherweight, it would be interesting to find out the answer.
6. Don’t: Eddie Alvarez
Alvarez has had an impressive run with the UFC, since coming over from Bellator back in 2014. He was even able to capture the UFC Lightweight Championship, making him the only fighter win titles in both the UFC and Bellator. Despite his accomplishments, the brawler from Philly looked outclassed in his first meeting with McGregor. Alvarez simply wasn’t able to keep up with Irishmen’s blazing hand speed. Alvarez is a tough as nails, extremely versatile fighter. However, he’s somewhat mediocre when it comes to selling a fight. He may have a hard time convincing fans a second fight could have a different outcome. Alvarez may earn another title shot if he’s able to string together a few impressive victories, but for now, fans aren’t clamouring to see a rematch with McGregor.
5. Need: Joseph Duffy
Here’s a name that some casual MMA fans may not be familiar with. Duffy also hails from Ireland and actually hold’s a victory over Connor McGregor from their days back in the old country. In Fact, prior to McGregor’s loss to Diaz, Duffy was the last man to defeat him. He still remains Connor’s most recent unavenged loss. Irish Joe has also done pretty well for himself since entering the UFC, going 3-1 in his first 4 fights. He probably hasn’t made enough of a name for himself to earn a re-match with McGregor. However, he does have a history with the current champ and could make an interesting last minute replacement, if such a situation ever arose. A clash with Duffy could provide Conor McGregor with a chance to show just how far his skills have come.
4. Don’t: Brock Lesnar
McGregor has made some less than flattering remarks about the WWE and professional wrestling in general. This resulted in Lesnar challenging McGregor to come to the WWE and meet him face to face. What Lesnar planned to do if McGregor did actually decide to show up is anyone’s guess. Lesnar is well over 100 pounds larger than the reigning lightweight king, making this a ridiculous match-up from an MMA standpoint. Although having these two compete in the octagon on pay-per-view would likely do massive numbers, it would also be very dangerous for McGregor given the size difference between the two men. McGregor has demonstrated his ability to fight in a higher weight class, but this would be a bit extreme. There is a zero percent chance of this fight ever happening… at least we hope for McGregor’s sake.
3. Need: Tony Ferguson
With 9 consecutive wins in the UFC, Ferguson might have the strongest case for a shot at the lightweight strap held by McGregor. He is scheduled to face Khabib Nurmagomedov for the interim title in March, but let’s be honest, this won’t generate the type of publicity that a fight with McGregor would. Moreover, it can be argued that an interim champ is just a glorified number one contender. The former wrestling standout known as El Cucuy is all but guaranteed a shot at McGregor, if he is able to get past Nurmagomedov. It would be a shame to see a guy who has won as many fights in a row as Ferguson has, not get a shot at the real Championship. If he does go on to face McGregor, it should a highly entertaining match.
2. Don’t: Urijah Faber
Although Faber is currently retired, an opportunity to face his former rival coach from the Ultimate Fighter would likely change that very quickly. While the California Kid may still have something left in the tank, he is 37 years old and would be at a significant disadvantage in regards to size. Faber is still a big enough name that this matchup might still do good business for the UFC. However, Faber was able to leave the UFC on a high note following his retirement bout against Brad Picket, so it’s probably best to leave well enough alone. A Urijah Faber in his prime against Conor McGregor may have been interesting, but the time for this match has passed.
1. Need: Georges St-Pierre
If the UFC is interested in creating a super fight, this is one to make. It would probably take a big money fight to lure St-Pierre back into the Octagon and there’s isn’t a bigger fight to be had than a bout against Conor McGregor.Prior to taking time off from the sport, St-Pierre had put together a 12 fight winning streak. The French Canadian is widely considered to be one of best mixed martial artists of all time. It would be a huge feather in McGregor’s cap if he were able to defeat the former Welterweight Champion. It could also be interesting to see if McGregor could stuff St-Pierre’s signature takedowns and avoid being pinned to the mat for the majority of the match. A lot would need to happen for this fight to take place, but it sure would be great to see it.
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