Conor McGregor’s path to another title shot remains uncertain.
Despite concerns from the COVID-19 pandemic, UFC president Dana White is still hoping Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson duke it out for the lightweight belt at UFC 249 in April, and McGregor is one of two top-five lightweight contenders without a scheduled opponent, along with Justin Gaethje.
White has indicated that McGregor’s next fight should be a rematch against Khabib if the Russian were to beat Ferguson, but Gaethje told MMA Fighting.com that he thinks McGregor still has a lot to prove before earning another shot at the belt.
The former World Series of Fighting champion, who like McGregor is coming off a victory over Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone, believes he and The Notorious should fight to determine the next No. 1 lightweight contender.
“(McGregor) knows that if he fights me and beats me, nobody — Khabib (Nurmagomedov), (Khabib’s manager) Ali (Abdelaziz), whoever — can’t say much about him earning it or deserving the title shot,” Gaethje said. “But until then, he ain’t going to get it.
“I’m in a great position to fight for a title and I have him saying he wants to jump ahead. Now I want to fight him cause it’s the right time. It’s the right fight to make.”
McGregor has expressed interest in fighting Gaethje, and this week, oddsmakers pegged him as a sizable favorite if a fight were to happen between the two.
That said, it might be a long time before we figure out what will happen next in the lightweight division. The Coronavirus pandemic could ultimately push back UFC 249 and if it does, Nurmagomedov, who observes the Muslim fasting period of Ramadan, might not be ready to fight until the end of May.
McGregor also has the leverage and power to pick and choose who he wants to fight because of his fame and wealth, and could opt to square off against Nate Diaz or Jorge Masvidal instead of Gaethje.
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