August 23, 2016

UFC 202: Five Options For Conor McGregor's Next Fight

By Adam Martin

Conor McGregor demanded a rematch against Nate Diaz, telling the UFC he wanted to run back his submission loss at UFC 196, and at UFC 202 the two met again, this time with McGregor emerging as the victor via majority decision in what is likely 2016's Fight of the Year to date. It was an incredible fight, with both men showing exceptional heart and will to go the full 25 minutes while blood spilled all over the Octagon with both physically spent. It was one of those fights, like the epic between Mauricio Rua and Dan Henderson at UFC 139, that reminds us why we love MMA so much.

The decision was close, and one of the three judges actually scored the fight a 47-47 draw, but ultimately McGregor prevailed, as the two other judges scored it 48-47 for the Irishman, who now moves to 8-1 with six finishes and two decision wins in his UFC career.

So what's next for McGregor? It's difficult to say at this point, considering the fight just happened, but here are five fights that could be next for "The Notorious" One:

Eddie Alvarez

The fight that seems most likely to happen next is McGregor against Alvarez for the UFC lightweight title. Remember, McGregor was supposed to fight Rafael dos Anjos for the lightweight belt back at UFC 196 before RDA got hurt and Diaz took his spot. When RDA did return, he got finished in upset fashion by Eddie Alvarez, losing his belt in the process. Now Alvarez wants McGregor, and McGregor wants Alvarez, and it makes so much sense. After putting on muscle to fight at a higher weight class, it seems unlikely we'll see McGregor return to featherweight, but lightweight seems perfect for him. This fight with Alvarez is a fun fight for the fans, and for the fighters it represents the opportunity to make a lot of money, as this is likely to be a huge PPV show. Plus, it gives McGregor the opportunity to become a two-division champion, joining only Randy Couture and BJ Penn in UFC history.

Nate Diaz

Although UFC President Dana White said the promotion doesn't want to do a trilogy match next, it's still possible we see Diaz fight McGregor again to really prove who the better man is. Diaz won the first fight by stoppage, now McGregor won by majority decision, so it's still not definitive who the better mixed martial artist is. The first two fights between these two warriors were incredible, and a trilogy would obviously be amazing as well. It seems likely the UFC will do another fight for each man for now, but you can't discount the possibility of a third fight since it's a proven money-making opportunity. Either way, I guarantee a trilogy between Diaz and McGregor eventually happens one day.

Jose Aldo

Technically, McGregor is the UFC Featherweight Champion, but you wouldn't know that since he hasn't defended his title yet. White has already said he would prefer McGregor return to 145 to defend his belt, or to relinquish it if he doesn't plan on returning to his old weight class, so this is up to McGregor. He said at the post-fight scrum at UFC 202 that a rematch with Aldo, who he knocked out in 13 seconds at UFC 194, doesn't interest him, and fair enough. It's a fight we have already seen and it was extremely one-sided, plus a rematch doesn't seem to be a huge pay-per-view boon. But if McGregor does want to defend his belt, then he'll have to do it against Aldo, the interim featherweight champ. It's all up to McGregor as to what he wants to do.

Donald Cerrone

Another option for McGregor is a fight with Cerrone, who just knocked out Rick Story in spectacular fashion at UFC 202. Cerrone is one of the most popular fighters in the sport who is always involved in incredible fights, and a fight with McGregor would be no different. The trash talk leading up to this fight would be unreal, and the fight itself would be spectacular. The UFC could also do this fight at either welterweight or lightweight, giving the promotion more options. Since Cerrone isn't holding a belt it seems unlikely the UFC matchmakers go this route, but no one would complain if they booked this fight.

Georges St-Pierre

And finally, it's really unlikely considering how small McGregor looks at welterweight, but perhaps the biggest PPV fight the UFC can do is McGregor against GSP, who says he wants to return to the sport by the end of the year. The UFC already has plans for GSP to headline UFC 206 in Toronto this December, and McGregor would be an ideal opponent. GSP was the biggest PPV draw in the sport when he was active, while McGregor has taken over since GSP has been on the shelf, quasi-retired. This fight would likely break PPV records. It's a tough fight for McGregor though based on GSP's size and strength advantages, so it's risky for McGregor, but if both men want to make a lot of money, then they'll fight.

UFC 202
Nate Diaz vs. Conor McGregor: Conor McGregor def. Nate Diaz via majority decision (48-47, 47-47, 48-47).

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UFC 202: Diaz vs. McGregor 2 took place on August 20, 2016 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Click the stars to rate how good you think UFC 202 was.

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