Who's next for Conor McGregor? Tony Ferguson did his part to try and win the McGregor sweepstakes by winning the interim lightweight title at UFC 216 and calling out the Irish camp to defend or vacate. But in a new interview with Submission Radio following the event, Conor's striking coach Owen Roddy still sounds like he prefers Nate Diaz next.
“I honestly think that people would rather ... like, I think people would rather see Conor vs. Diaz,” Roddy said. “I just think it’s a more exciting fight for everybody, it’s the trilogy. The first two fights, the back and forth between the guys and the way the fights went. You know, who wouldn’t want to see the third fight? But of course, it makes sense that he fights (Ferguson), he defends the belt."
“Whatever happens, I don’t know, but I said this already: I would like to see the trilogy. The Ferguson fight is an interesting one as well. Like, he’s an exciting fighter so it will be an exciting fight. So either or, either or.”
The Diaz fight would undoubtedly be bigger. While we don't know how many PPVs UFC 216 sold with Ferguson at the top, early metrics for the event have it being another sub-500k seller for the promotion. Then there's the fact that Roddy believes Ferguson doesn't offer a real challenge to McGregor.
“He’s good, obviously,” Roddy said. “He wouldn’t be the interim champion if he wasn’t good. His style, it’s not traditional. It’s a bit unorthodox and stuff, but I just honestly think that Conor’s going to be way too clean for Ferguson. If Ferguson tries to stand with Conor for an extended period of time, it will be lights out, in my opinion. You know, he’s tough as well. He’s tough and durable, so he may take a couple of smacks, but at the end of the day, Conor’s going to be way too clean and too technical.”
"[McGregor] won’t get touched. That’s my opinion. But yeah, it will be an interesting one, and it will be an exciting fight as well because Ferguson does come to fight, and he’s aggressive. He goes in. He looks to finish fights. So it will be exciting. But yeah, without a doubt if he wants to stand and bang with Conor, it’ll be lights out fairly quick, I think.”
Fortunately for those hoping for a unification of the lightweight belts, Nate Diaz may be 'pricing himself out of the fight' by demanding too much money from the UFC. At that point, between the UFC wanting the Ferguson fight and McGregor looking for an uncomplicated quick turnaround, Tony could be the guy by default.