Even though former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) two-division champion, Conor McGregor, continues to tease his retirement from mixed martial arts (MMA), promotion president, Dana White, expects a “Notorious” return by the end of 2019 or early 2020.
But it won’t be for the division title.
That’s because the winner of Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Dustin Poirier, who collide in the UFC 242 pay-per-view (PPV) main event this September in Abu Dhabi, are likely to move on to face Tony Ferguson at the end of the year.
“No,” White told TMZ about McGregor getting first dibs. “But it will shake things up, whoever wins that fight. He’ll either be back this year or early next year. We’ll see how this whole thing plays out in September.”
That leaves McGregor with plenty of options, including Nate Diaz or even longtime lightweight “Cowboy,” Donald Cerrone. Though we probably shouldn’t ignore that recent callout from welterweight bruiser, Jorge Masvidal, who wants a piece of the “Notorious” pie.
“Masvidal is too big for Conor,” White continued. “There are plenty of fights for him in his weight division without Conor. Conor doesn’t belong at 170. He’s got the balls to fight at 170, but he doesn’t belong there.”
McGregor split a pair of welterweight fights back in 2016. “Gamebred,” meanwhile, last competed at lightweight at UFC Fight Night 63.
Until we close the book on UFC 242, it’s impossible to predict how the division will shake out. If we’re betting a horse by its record, then it’s unlikely we’ll see the self-made billionaire make his Octagon return until some time next year.