Now that undefeated UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov took care of business against Conor McGregor earlier this month at UFC 229, the promotion is left to figure out what’s next for the 155-pound division.
While most people would think UFC is in favor of scheduling a rematch between Khabib and McGregor, especially since their first matchup did north of 2.4 million pay-per-view (PPV) buys, the promotion is leaning in another direction.
“I haven’t even thought about a [McGregor] rematch,” White told ESPN. “Obviously, I know Conor wants a rematch. We need to do what’s right and what’s fair. We’ll see how it plays out. We literally haven’t thought about it yet.
”... As a fight fan, you’ve got to go with Tony [Ferguson]. Tony had the belt, tweaked his knee, got stripped, this fight happens -- Tony never lost the [interim] belt in a fight. Neither did Conor, but Conor got the opportunity to actually fight [Nurmagomedov]. I think Tony deserves the next shot.”
Even though McGregor has gotten his way with rematches before (i.e. Nate Diaz), there’s little meat left on the bone for a reboot between Khabib and “Notorious.” At the end of the day, Khabib did what he said he was going to do and smashed McGregor on the ground before sinking in a fourth-round choke to end the Irishman.
With a potential rematch off the table (for now), former interim UFC lightweight champion Tony Ferguson is the favorite to land the next shot at Khabib’s crown. The two lightweights have been scheduled to fight four times in the past, but freak injures and bad weight cuts have prohibited the two lightweights from finally squaring off.
Most casual fight fans would rather see McGregor take another crack at Khabib, but a matchup between an undefeated champion and a former titleholder on an 11-fight win streak isn’t a bad alternative.
Of course, nothing can be finalized until Khabib goes before the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) on Oct. 24 to receive punishment for his brawl with McGregor at UFC 229.