“Right hook tastiness, catch you soon the count down is on,” is how Conor McGregor set the Twittersphere ablaze in speculation this morning.
In case you have been living under a rock, or have been trying to smoke half as much as Nate Diaz for the past nine months; Conor McGregor has been in recovery from a fractured tibia and fibula that he sustained in his trilogy with Dustin Poirier.
At the time, the injury was projected to take approximately 9-12 months to heal, but Mcgregor’s recovery has seemingly gone about as smoothly as possible – in stark contrast to Chris Weidman, who sustained a similar injury 12 months ago at UFC 261 against Uriah Hall. Conor was cleared for sparring within the last couple of weeks and has been posting pictures of himself back in the gym.
When Can We Expect Conor Back – And Where?
Now, assuming that Conor is being genuine: if he begins camp properly in the next week, assuming a six-week camp, plus a week for travel to adjust, and a week for media, this would mean that we can expect the Irishman to return on July 1st. In other words, UFC 276. Which will be held during International Fight Week: hosted in Las Vegas, Nevada the capital of the fight game.
Originally rumored to have been headlined by Kamaru Usman vs Leon Edwards (who this week refuted claims that he had accepted both his show and win money to step aside), and with rumors circling about Jon Jones vs Stipe being targeted for the summer, what a way to kick off the summer than Conor McGregor’s return?
Who Would Challenge the Return of the Notorious?
Who, then, could the first-ever double champ in history, former UFC Lightweight and Featherweight Champion, former P4P #1 fighter in the world be facing in his return fight?
The Irishman has scarcely been out of the news cycle, whether it be for his arrest for driving without a license or insurance last month, or for calling out everyone from Kamaru Usman to Charles Oliveira to Henry Cejudo to Max Holloway. ‘The Notorious’ understands this business better than anyone – he’s keeping us guessing.
Dustin Poirier seems to think that it might be him, based on this Tweet among others. Having come up short against Charles Oliveira in December, Dustin Poirier has been without a fight and without a booking. He and Nate Diaz have been going back and forth on Twitter, with both men screaming for a fight. A return against Poirier could be a big risk for the Irishman, having lost both their previous fights.
However, given how the previous fight ended, especially the hatred between McGregor and the Poirier, it would sell phenomenally. A win would surely put ‘The Notorious’ back in the #1 Contender spot for the winner of the UFC 274 Main Event between Oliveira and Gaethje on May 6th.
The other vertex of this love (hate?) triangle – Nate Diaz – shouldn’t be ruled out of the runnings here either. With only one fight left on his UFC contract, Diaz has been very vocal about wanting to get out of his contract with the company, citing criticism about the fights that he has been offered, as well as their hypocrisy surrounding marijuana and he and his brother Nick‘s history with NSAC. Nate would be the “tune-up fight” that Joe Rogan suggested Conor take before fighting for a Title against Kamaru or Charles.
Which UFC Belt Is Conor Mcgregor Returning For?
Could it be for a title? Well, it is Conor McGregor so anything is possible, but a title with one win since Obama was POTUS is very unlikely. Edwards is the rightful challenger for Usman, and with UFC 277 rumored for London, England, it is surely the fight to headline that card.
Oliveira is booked for May 6th, and it is simply too soon of a turnaround for either outcome, and Gaethje has promised Islam Makhachev a title shot if he is successful against Oliveira. However, both the champion and Gaethje have expressed interest in fighting ‘The Notorious’ – the allure of Red Panty Night is real.
The only other title that Mcgregor could possibly be competing for is the BMF Title, but according to Chael Sonnen, that belt is dead and buried, and Jorge Masvidal hasn’t seemed interested in a fight with McGregor, with the only major sound-byte regarding an opponent coming from himself on Logan Paul’s podcast, discussing fighting Jake Paul.
More Potential Opponents for Conor Mcgregor
Max Holloway or Alex Volkanovski are two other names who have been thrown around for the Irishman’s return, especially after he was seemingly visualizing himself in the cage against ‘Blessed’. However, they are almost certainly going to be booked for their trilogy soon, but let us not forget that Holloway was the replacement for Mcgregor and Poirier 3 – before he was forced to pull out due to his shoulder injury, and was replaced by Rafael Dos Anjos. This brings us to an interesting point – RDA was calling for a fight on Twitter yesterday.
He shot down Dan Hooker for having two losses in a row, but he could make a lot of sense for ‘The Notorious’. The two obviously have a history, originally scheduled for UFC 196, RDA (who was Lightweight Champ at the time, before losing the belt to Eddie Alvarez who subsequently lost to McGregor), and have had altercations in the past, with RDA calling Mcgregor a “snake” on Twitter last year after an incident at weigh-ins.
So, could RDA be his mystery return opponent? Let us know what you think in the comments below!
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