After Conor McGregor’s submission defeat to Nate Diaz at UFC 196, the Irishman was reportedly ‘obsessed’ about the loss and went to extreme lengths to ensure the UFC booked the rematch, which McGregor went on to win via majority decision at UFC 202.
Flash forward to to 2018, however, when Khabib Nurmagomedov submitted McGregor to defend his lightweight title at UFC 229, and ‘The Notorious’ didn’t — and still doesn’t — seem particularly enthused about a rematch with ‘The Eagle’.
There’s been a noticeable shift in McGregor’s attitude since that bout and, according to UFC Hall of Famer Michael Bisping, the former ‘champ-champ’ is secretly ‘praying’ for a rematch with Dustin Poirier, who is scheduled to take on Nurmagomedov in a lightweight title unification bout at UFC 242.
“If I’m McGregor, he’s probably hoping and praying that Poirier beats Khabib in Abu Dhabi,” podcast host Bisping said on a recent edition of Believe You Me, per MMA Fighting’s Jed Meshew. “Because if Poirier beats Khabib, obviously we all know Conor has that massive win over Poirier. He did it very, very easily. He made short work of Poirier back in the day. Alright, it was at 145, it was a long time ago, but even still, if Poirier wins there’s a possibility of setting up that rematch. That’s his shot and easier shot at the title.”
If Poirier fails to get the job done in Abu Dhabi, Bisping doesn’t think the UFC will book a rematch between McGregor and Khabib despite the enormous success of their first bout in Las Vegas.
“I don’t know if he gets that fight,” Bisping said. “Even if Khabib wins I don’t think he gets the rematch. The Poirier fight, definitely, I can see them doing that.
“I don’t [see them doing the Khabib rematch]. From the UFC’s perspective, they’re going to do it because it was the biggest pay-per-view they’ve ever done and the rematch is going to be even bigger. Simple as that. Rematches sell, especially with the amount of bad blood, especially with what happened after the fight outside the Octagon last time. The rematch will be huge. I just think Conor has to win another fight first. But at the same time, money does talk. . .
“Maybe. Maybe. Because A) as I said before, the numbers were massive so why wouldn’t they want to do that again? B) The public will buy it. They will 100 percent lap that up. It all depends on whether Khabib gives it to him. And honestly, Khabib probably wants to. There is a good possibility.”
UFC 242: Khabib vs. Poirier takes place next month, September 7 at du Arena in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.