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McGregor's love of the game leaves him with host of options

 

By David Charlesworth

Conor McGregor made a losing return to the UFC after tapping out to bitter rival Khabib Nurmagomedov in their eagerly-anticipated showdown in Las Vegas in the early hours of Sunday.

The Irishman made his comeback after nearly two years away from the octagon but was thoroughly outclassed by Nurmagomedov, whose rear-naked choke forced a submission midway through the fourth round.

Nevertheless, McGregor remains a star attraction for the organisation and has several options open to him...

Khabib Nurmagomedov

A post-fight melee instigated by Nurmagomedov may preclude an immediate rematch if the Nevada State Athletic Commission decides to come down hard on the lightweight champion.

McGregor is keen, though, tweeting: "Good knock. Looking forward to the rematch."

Any return bout would likely be a lucrative affair for all concerned, but the toxic nature of this weekend's contest, and the events leading up to it, may halt the UFC in its tracks.

Tony Ferguson

this could be the most logical contest to make.

The pair have a mutual dislike of each other, although not nearly as intense as the enmity shared between McGregor and Nurmagomedov.

Ferguson has been itching for a fight with McGregor - or 'McNuggets' as he has taken to calling the Dubliner - and is ranked number two in the lightweight rankings.

Floyd Mayweather

McGregor was said to have earned $100m when he crossed over to boxing last year to take on Mayweather. He was stopped in the 10th round but fared better than many anticipated.

Mayweather took his record to 50-0 in that fight and insists he is retired, although the lure of another big pay day must be a tempting prospect.

Mayweather earlier this year teased a foray into mixed martial arts but he was most recently in the headlines for suggesting he is close to a rematch with Manny Pacquiao.

Anderson Silva

Ahead of his bout against Nurmagomedov, McGregor was asked about potential future foes and the one surprise name on the list is arguably the greatest UFC fighter of all-time.

The Brazilian ruled the middleweight division from 2006 to 2013 and at one point was on a 16-fight winning streak. However, the 43-year-old's best days are well and truly behind him, with four losses in his last six bouts.

Retire

Possibly even more unlikely than facing off against Silva.

But it should be one of the options for McGregor, who is financially set for life after backing up his nine-figure payday with another lucrative cheque to take on Nurmagomedov.

Why should he risk his long-term health in a sport that can cause irreversible damage? One reason - and he kept alluding to it all last week - he loves the fight game, meaning it is highly unlikely that we have seen the last of McGregor in some form of combat sport.

Belfast Telegraph

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