6 potential opponents for Conor McGregor’s next fight after Dustin Poirier loss

Conor McGregor is already plotting a return to fighting, just days after suffering a horror leg break against Dustin Poirier which could have ended his career.

The Irishman lost consecutive fights for the first time in his UFC career on Saturday night, but claims he would have beaten Poirier if he hadn’t suffered the freak injury in the first round.

He won the lightweight title in late 2016 to become the first ever simultaneous two-weight world champion, but since lost three of his last four UFC bouts, and four of his last five fights if you include his boxing debut against Floyd Mayweather.

McGregor will be desperate to get back in the win column when he returns, likely in 2022, and we’ve taken a look at some of the possible options for his return…

1. Nate Diaz

The fight that probably makes the most sense from both a financial and sporting sense is another trilogy bout, this time with Nate Diaz.

UFC president Dana White has never seemed too keen on making the third fight between McGregor and Diaz, but with both men coming off a series of convincing losses it may finally make sense.

The UFC boss told The Mac Life ahead of Poirier-McGregor 3 that he ‘didn’t love’ making the first fight when McGregor’s initial opponent fell out, but both of their 2016 bouts at UFC 169 and 202 were record-breaking pay-per-views at the time.

McGregor would be heavily favoured, even in his current form, to beat Diaz in their third bout.

McGregor and Diaz’s long-time rivalry needs a trilogy

2. Rafael Dos Anjos

Former lightweight champion Dos Anjos is an ex-rival of the Irishman, with the pair scheduled to fight in 2016.

Dos Anjos was then the king at 155 lbs, but he had to pull out with a foot injury, and when Nate Diaz defeated McGregor on short notice, his chance at a money fight was gone.

He ended up losing the belt in his next title defence against Eddie Alvarez, but has since re-established himself in the division after a brief and unsuccessful move to welterweight.

The pair had an altercation as Dos Anjos was an alternate for Saturday’s fight, and as a contest this fight is really fascinating with no clear favourite emerging.

Conor McGregor and Rafael Dos Anjos in 2016
Conor McGregor and Rafael Dos Anjos were supposed to fight in 2016

3. Justin Gaethje

Gaethje is one of the UFC’s top lightweights, and McGregor was reportedly scheduled to fight him in July 2019 before suffering an injury that stopped contract negotiations.

Since then, Gaethje defeated Tony Ferguson to become interim champion, which earned him a unification bout with the legendary Khabib Nurmagomedov.

He was defeated, just every other man who has faced the Dagestani, but is now expected to face another top lightweight in Michael Chandler in a fight that could get him back in the title picture.

The one issue could be that Gaethje’s manager is the same as Nurmagomedov; Ali Abdelaziz, who has a long-standing feud with McGregor which could hinder negotiations.

McGregor v Gaethje was tentatively scheduled before
McGregor v Gaethje was tentatively scheduled before

4. Michael Chandler

Former Bellator lightweight champion Chandler started his UFC career with a bang, sleeping top 10 fighter Dan Hooker within minutes of their bout on the undercard of Poirier-McGregor 2.

He’s expected to face Gaethje next out, but a date for that bout hasn’t been confirmed yet and it is probably more likely that the loser of that fight would face McGregor, while the winner will face the winner of Poirier’s title fight with Charles Oliveira.

This fight would have an interesting twist, with a battle of the two ‘faces’ of their respective promotions Bellator and UFC taking place.

Michael Chandler could be a prospective opponent
Michael Chandler could be a prospective opponent

5. Jake Paul

This one is probably very unlikely, but as McGregor has said himself about the prospect, you can never say never.

Financially, McGregor would probably make the most from a return to boxing, whether it was against Paul or a ‘real’ boxer like Manny Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather.

Paul reportedly offered his $50million to make the switch back to boxing, but it would be a massive step down in quality of opponent, and many would view it as his official departure from the elite level of combat sports.

And given the size difference, Paul might actually have a chance against him!

Jake Paul is 3-0 as a pro having beaten Ben Askren
Jake Paul is 3-0 as a pro having beaten Ben Askren

6. Floyd Mayweather

This bout is almost certainly not going to happen, but it would make both men an absurd amount of money if they were to do it.

The pair fought in the second biggest boxing match of all time in August 2017, and they each earned nine figures for the bout, which was Mayweather’s last professional outing.

Mayweather has said he certainly won’t be returning to professional boxing, where he is 50-0, and probably won’t even do another exhibition like his ones with Tenshin Nasukawa and Logan Paul in recent years.

However, McGregor seemed keen on the bout happening, telling ESPN last week that he believes the rematch will happen one day.

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