It’s A Long Way Back To A Title Shot For ‘Notorious’, Or Is It?
UFC 229 was headlined by one of the most anticipated fights in the organization’s history. The most popular fighter in the UFC, Conor McGregor, was looking to not only win back the lightweight championship he was stripped of but also hand Khaibib Nurmagomedov his first loss.
On Saturday night, neither one of those things happened.
Nurmagomedov dominated the fight and not just with his grappling. Nurmagomedov stunned the former two-division champ McGregor by dropping him with a right hand in the second round.
Nurmagomedov (27-0) eventually got a neck crank on McGregor (21-4) forcing him to tap 3:03 into the fourth round. Nurmagomedov defending his lightweight championship for the first time, earned the biggest win of his career.
So what’s next for McGregor? He’s only 30-years-old but the lightweight division is as stacked as its ever been.
The co-main event featured two top lightweights when Tony Ferguson defeated Anthony Pettis in a bloody war. Pettis was forced to stop fighting in between the second and third round due to a broken hand.
— UFC (@ufc) October 7, 2018
Ferguson (24-3) has won eleven fights in a row and may have clinched himself a shot at the title. The problem is, Nurmagomedov is the champion and he and Ferguson have been slated to fight one another four times, with each fighter pulling out two times apiece due to injury or poor weight cutting.
After the last time the fight was canceled at UFC 223, Dana White was asked if he would ever schedule the fight for the fifth time in which the UFC President responded with a “Hell no.”
Nurmagomedov may be facing a suspension after getting into a brawl with McGregor’s coaches after the fight Saturday night. With the lightweight champion possibly not being able to compete for a while, there’s a chance Ferguson can fight McGregor for an interim title. But there are other fighters besides Ferguson in the mix to fight McGregor.
Dustin Poirier is fighting Nate Diaz at UFC 230 so the winner of that fight can fight Ferguson for an interim title and the loser can face McGregor. Diaz (19-11) and McGregor have fought one another twice already with each fighter winning once apiece. A rubber match would be a huge money fight for both fighters and would settle the tie between the two.
Poirier (24-5-1) fought McGregor when the two both fought at featherweight and lost via first-round TKO at UFC 178. Poirier has won four of his last five, with the one that he didn’t win ruled a no-contest. A rematch between the two would be a fun fight with two of the top lightweights on the planet fighting in which most likely would be a stand-up war.
Another option would be for McGregor would be to rematch Nurmagomedov. Their fight Saturday night wasn’t very close, but with Nurmagomedov’s antics after the fight, there is more bad blood than ever. The pay-per-view numbers haven’t been released on their fight Saturday did, but according to White, it was on pace to be the highest bought PPV in the history of the UFC. A rematch between the Nurmagomedov and McGregor will be another fight where both fighters and the organization would make a lot of money.
The last option for McGregor would be a fight most likely out of his weight class with Georges St. Pierre or Anderson Silva. It wouldn’t be for a title or help McGregor get any closer to another title shot, but it would be a fight featuring former champions and fighters who have been considered one of the greatest fighters of all-time.