We are on the cusp of one of the biggest fights in the history of combat sports. Conor McGregor, the biggest star in UFC history, is close to agreeing terms with all-time boxing great Floyd Mayweather. While McGregor-Mayweather is guaranteed to be a spectacle, the actual fight threatens to demean both fighter’s legitimacy.
For Floyd Mayweather, this fight has no benefit to his legacy. He has achieved all his sporting goals and should stay retired. If McGregor fights Mayweather instead of defending his title, he will be doing a massive disservice to the UFC. So, here are three fights that the Irishman should take in the UFC to cement his legacy in mixed martial arts:
13 seconds. That is all it took for Conor McGregor to knockout the greatest featherweight of all time at UFC 194. After a year of build-up, fans across the globe awaited a fight for the ages between the Irishman and the Brazilian phenom. But even though his knockout was spectacular, the end of the fight was anticlimactic. Purely from a stylistic standpoint, this fight is one we really need to see play out for longer than 13 seconds.
I also believe that the UFC was wrong to not grant Aldo an immediate rematch for his title. Especially once you consider the UFC’s penchant for making rematches in much less deserving circumstances.
So much has happened since that moment in 2015. Conor McGregor went on to lose his next fight before winning a rematch against Nate Diaz and ending the year with a lightweight title win against Eddie Alvarez. A win which culminated with the Irishman being stripped of his featherweight title.
For José Aldo, 2016 acted as a time of reflection and redemption. After losing, Aldo took some time out before returning at UFC 200 and defeating Frankie Edgar for the interim featherweight title with a spectacular performance. Following McGregor’s move to lightweight, Aldo was promoted to the standalone featherweight champion.
Aldo has spoken at length about wanting this rematch and McGregor should really give Aldo a shot at his lightweight title.
This fight is a no-brainer. If you say you have no interest in this fight, you are probably lying. When Nate Diaz stepped in on short notice at UFC 196, he was led like a lamb to the slaughter. All but the most die-hard fight fans had written Stockton’s finest off, but on that night in March we were treated to one of the greatest moments in UFC history.
For the first five minutes of the fight, McGregor looked dominant. After easily winning the first stanza, McGregor appeared to be on the cusp of another knockout victory. But Diaz had other ideas. He loosened up, timed McGregor’s offense, landed a clean shot and managed to capitalize on a panicked McGregor’s shot to secure a sweep and eventual submission.
The two would rematch at UFC 202 with the Irishman coming out on top in a back-and-forth classic. With the series tied at one apiece, this fight makes sense. Diaz has proven to be the best test in the UFC for McGregor. This fight will also be a massive financial success for the promotion and both fighters. And while Diaz doesn’t deserve a title shot, this fight would be electric.
If you believe that the UFC should have the best fight the best than this fight must happen. I personally believe that the UFC should be a meritocracy, and I am a fan of watching both Khabib and Ferguson.
While Conor McGregor was ascending through the featherweight division, Khabib and Ferguson were dominating their way through the lightweight elite. Nurmagomedov has never been beaten and while cursed with injuries, has been largely untouchable during his UFC tenure. Ferguson is the king of technical brawling, rarely is in a boring fight and constantly pursues the finish. Both fighters should have had title fights a long time ago and it is a shame that one must lose when they fight for the interim lightweight title at UFC 209.
A fight between the winner of Nurmagomedov-Ferguson and Conor is much more exciting than a predictable Mayweather domination. If you care about the legitimacy of titles, McGregor needs to take one of these three fights.
The fan in me wants to see all of these fights take place and I really hope McGregor gives his prime to MMA instead of tipping his toes in boxing.