Well it was an absolutely wild night in New York City. Bonkers, really. Rarely does a fight card deliver once it reaches this level of hype and yet, this one did. In every possible way.
There’s something special about Conor McGregor. Wipe away the glamour and glitz. Ignore the trash talk and the flashy kicks and the nearly unparalleled swag. Conor’s true appeal is his ability to do what he says. He makes outrageous claims and then he makes them a reality.
He said he would beat Nate Diaz in a rematch. And he did. He said he would become the sport’s first two-way champion. And he is. Conor does what he says he’ll do. Every time.
So what’s next for the Notorious Irishman? The way I see it, there are three options. All three are deserving and all three provide intriguing matchups for different reasons. So let’s break these down, fight by fight:
Khabib made a big statement on Saturday night by dominating a game Michael Johnson. There was a bit of a scare early as MJ landed some looping haymakers but as soon as things went to the mat, it was all Khabib. He’s a different animal down there and that much was clear, transitioning from full mount to mounted crucifix and inflicting damage from everywhere.
And then, after the fight, he made another statement. This time into a microphone. He made it very clear that he is tired of getting passed over. He’s the best lightweight in the world and for whatever reason, he isn’t getting the chance to prove it. Maybe it’s because he’s foreign or maybe it’s the grind-em-out style, neither of which make him very marketable. That being said, there’s only so long you can deny greatness.
Plus, as Khabib pointed out, there are a lot of people in Russia. Not marketable? Interesting…
Last week, Tony Ferguson put together one of the best performances of his career. He won a hard fought decision against a former champion in Rafael dos Anjos and looked damn good doing it. Every criticism of Khabib’s marketability is flipped when it comes to Tony. He’s got an extremely appealing fighting style. He’s dynamic on the microphone and has no problem talking a little trash about his divisional rivals.
Plus, he’s good. Like really good. Ignore the intangibles and look at the resumes and an argument can be made that he’s a more deserving contender. He’s 12-1 inside the Octagon. Khabib is 8-0. There are plenty of shared opponents making it difficult to determine who has the better strength of schedule. And Ferguson most certainly has the edge in dynamic finishing ability. The real test would be Tony vs. Khabib and I believe we may get just that. Especially when you consider the third option for McGregor’s next fight…
Ah, Nate. I mean it’s gotta be Nate right? They’re tied at one-a-piece. Diaz won the first. McGregor won the second. And now we need to break the tie. Consider the added element of having a belt on the line and this fight must be made. It would shatter records. The first fight did. The second fight did. The third would blow those numbers out of the water.
In fact, I’m ending my analysis there. I made the decision as I was writing this. Not only do I feel as if that’s what should happen, but I’d be shocked if we got anything else. We’ll get McGregor vs. Diaz III and assuming both of these guys are down to fight rather than wait, I believe we’ll get Ferguson vs. Nurmagomedov in a title eliminator.
People will complain. They always do. But those are the fights to make.