Conor McGregor is currently enjoying the spoils that come with lasting ten rounds with the best boxer in the world, but the burning question is when will the UFC champion and aspiring pugilist return to fighting, be it in a ring or an octagon?
Most people wouldn’t go back to their day jobs after hitting a hundred-million dollar payday. So the idea of McGregor hanging up his gloves, both four-ounce and ten-ounce, seems somewhat plausible. But the difference between “Notorious” and most people is that he’s a professional athlete who yearns for competition. Plus, for McGregor, returning to his 9-to-5 means making more ungodly sums of money, something the Irishman is keenly interested in. McGregor has said that he wants to top Forbes’ rich-list and jump around in his piles of money like Scrooge McDuck.
Ok, I made that last part up. But he is clearly not content with his windfall from the Floyd Mayweather fight.
Despite his last MMA fight coming in November 2016, McGregor currently holds the UFC’s lightweight title belt. His hiatus has essentially put the deep and talented division into a holding pattern that can’t hold much longer. Tony Ferguson (interim lightweight champion) and Khabib Nurmagomedov, two killers deserving of a title shot, have been patient enough.
UFC president Dana White has hinted that he may put together a number-one contender/interim lightweight title matchup between Ferguson and Nurmagomedov and start building for McGregor’s return sometime around March. However, if McGregor waits until the summer, the UFC will no doubt have to strip him of the title and make that interim title fight for the vacant lightweight title. As Dana White told Yahoo Sports,
I don’t think Conor wants to fight until August … If he waits until August or September, that’s around two years since the belt has been defended and that can’t happen.
There is an outside chance that McGregor isn’t done with boxing. White announced that he’s about to get into the boxing business and so if the Irish superstar wants to keep making big dollars in the squared circle, that opportunity could afford itself in another lucrative matchup.
But don’t hold your breath when it comes to the sweet science.
If McGregor decides to fight again, it will most likely be in the UFC something his coach has been pushing hard for. The Mayweather fight was Unicorn money, but there is still a steady stream of cash that can be made in mixed martial arts, especially if the UFC offers McGregor a lucrative deal that also includes either a stake in the company or some sort of co-promoter arrangement.
What’s next for McGregor? Only he knows at this point. What we know is that you can lay down bets on potential matchups — both boxing and MMA — at numerous sportsbooks. But you don’t want to waste your time, tying up money for upwards of a year on fights that are never going to materialize. So let’s look at the McGregor futures that are currently on offer and sort out which ones are worth your time, i.e. which of these potential fights actually have a decent chance of coming to fruition.
Conor McGregor Boxing Options
Conor McGregor (+125) vs. Oscar De La Hoya (-155)
Not going to happen. Don’t even entertain it. De La Hoya and Dana White don’t get along; the UFC will never allow it, nor could I ever see them co-promoting. Putting money down on this potential fight will simply result in you getting that money back when 2018 runs out.
Conor McGregor (+350) vs Manny Pacquiao (-485)
Plausible? Yes. Likely? No. McGregor’s next fight will be in the UFC; I’m supremely confident about that. That significantly decreases the likelihood that McGregor/Pacquiao will happen in the specified 2018 timeframe.
Conor McGregor UFC Options
Conor McGregor (-175) vs. Tony Ferguson (+145)
Here is the future moneyline you need to take a careful look at. First, for the bet to have action, the fight has to take place sometime in 2018. As mentioned above, there is a chance that Ferguson could be fighting Nurmagomedov next, but that fight would likely take place by March, leaving ample time for a matchup with McGregor. Also, since Ferguson is the interim title holder, his next fight could very well be a unification bout against McGregor, if Notorious agrees to come back relatively soon.
When it comes to who you should take, I see Ferguson as the better value at +145. “El Cucuy” is an aggressive fighter who pushes the pace and has am unpredictable style. He has legit fight-finishing ability both on the feet and on the ground. He has obviously been more active, as well, and can definitely give McGregor a run.
Conor McGregor vs. Nate Diaz III (moneyline closed)
The big-money UFC matchup would be a trilogy fight with Nate Diaz, and sportsbooks were offering a moneyline of McGregor (-250) vs Diaz (+190) back in November. This matchup had some steam behind it late in 2017, but it appears the UFC and Diaz are miles apart on money, and it’s apparent Dana White wants McGregor to defend his title first against Ferguson or Nurmagomedov.
If/when this moneyline opens back up, I will have to see significant progress on the negotiations between Diaz and White before I would bother betting on it. Anytime McGregor is the more amenable negotiator in a rumored fight, the chances of that fight happening anytime soon are slim.