Conor McGregor next fight: 7 potential matchups after Irishman returns from broken ankle

UFC: Jake Paul takes aim at McGregor and Dana again

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Conor McGregor’s hopes of defeating Dustin Poirier and securing a shot at the UFC lightweight title ended in disaster at UFC 264 when he suffered a broken ankle at the end of the first round of his trilogy fight with “The Diamond” in Las Vegas.

McGregor’s injury means that he faces a long spell out of action while he looks to heal from his injuries before battling back to fighting fitness ahead of a return to action.

He may be injured and coming off a loss, but McGregor remains the biggest star in the UFC, and one of the biggest draws in sport, full stop.

Express Sport takes a look at seven potential matchups that McGregor could choose from when he plans his return to competitive action.

Dustin Poirier

This will undoubtedly be the fight McGregor wants when he’s fit to return. But the big question is, will he be able to get his wish?

McGregor was well on the way to being defeated by Poirier before he suffered his unfortunate injury at the end of the first round.

With McGregor on the sidelines for an extended period and unable to call for an immediate rematch, Poirier is a virtual cert to move on and face undisputed lightweight champion Charles Oliveira for the lightweight title later this year.

And if Poirier is successful and becomes champ, McGregor may have to defeat another contender before earning a fourth fight with a man who has now become his new nemesis.

Nate Diaz

McGregor may have lost out in his trilogy bid against Poirier, but against Diaz he has the opportunity to go back to the well one more time in a fight that would attract even more attention than the one we just witnessed at UFC 264.

Diaz is a huge fan favourite in his own right and, with each man holding a win over the other, a trilogy has been on the cards ever since McGregor edged a majority decision in the the second fight at UFC 202 in 2016.

But, before the Irishman claimed a narrow win on the scorecards in that fight, Diaz shocked the world with a second-round rear-naked choke submission of the Irishman as he handed McGregor his first UFC defeat in stunning fashion.

Diaz famously uttered, “I’m not surprised,” following that win, and now, following McGregor’s loss to Poirier on Saturday night, few would be surprised if the UFC looked to book McGregor-Diaz 3 for later this year.

Jorge Masvidal

If the Poirier and Diaz fights are not feasible for any reason, there’s a perfect substitute option. 

Masvidal finished Diaz to capture the one-off “BMF” title at Madison Square Garden at UFC 244 in 2019 and twice challenged unsuccessfully for the UFC welterweight title.

Now Masvidal is looking for a big fight to get the juices flowing again, and a matchup with McGregor may be an ideal option for both men.

Both fighters like to stand and strike, and both would fancy their chances of outlanding the other. 

If the Diaz fight isn’t possible, a matchup between McGregor and Masvidal could, as the Miami native says, be “super necessary.”

Rafael Dos Anjos

Former UFC lightweight champion Dos Anjos may not be the first name people will conjure up when asked about potential opponents, but that very bout could have happened this past weekend.

Dos Anjos was drafted in as a backup fighter in the event of either Poirier or McGregor being unable to fight, and Dos Anjos has made no secret of his desire to finally meet McGregor inside the octagon.

McGregor and Dos Anjos were originally set to meet in the main event of UFC 196, with McGregor due to challenge the Brazilian for the lightweight title. But a broken foot forced Dos Anjos out of the fight and the fight was never rebooked.

The bad blood still exists, however, with the pair involved in an angry altercation during fight week in Las Vegas this past week, and a matchup between the pair may be an option if some of the bigger-name matchups are unable to be made.

Manny Pacquiao

With McGregor’s defeat effectively ruling him out of title contention in the immediate future, the Irishman may look to return to boxing in order to secure another bumper payday.

Switching to boxing would mean McGregor won’t have as many concerns about his legs, while a matchup with Pacquiao would allow him to finally get a fight that he was preparing for prior to his defeat to Poirier in January.

It may take time to get the fight booked, but with McGregor being out of action for an extended stint, there’s plenty of time to make it happen.

Jake Paul

It might not be the highest-calibre opponent, but it might just deliver one of the biggest paydays.

Paul has been chirping at McGregor ever since he dipped his toe into the water of professional boxing and, to his credit, he’s managed to carve a niche for himself while not actually facing a credentialed striker.

That will change when he faces Tyron Woodley in August, but Paul has always had his sights set on a bout with McGregor. 

And, if McGregor’s options start to run a little dry, Paul may just offer the biggest realistic payday for the Dubliner.

Floyd Mayweather

It’s the biggest payday out there, and both men have stated their interest in facing the other for a second time, so don’t rule out a potential rematch between McGregor and Mayweather at some stage in the next 18 months.

Had McGregor won, the chances of the fight may have been greater, with the Dubliner coming off a win and potentially challenging for a UFC title again. But that’s not to say he couldn’t come back straight into another megabucks fight with Mayweather.

After all, with the Irishman forced to heal and rehab a broken leg, it’s unlikely he’ll be throwing too many kicks for a while.

And, if the type of matchup McGregor wants isn’t immediately available to him upon his return to fitness, a pivot back to the boxing ring may give him the sort of matchup he – and his bank manager – would relish.

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