Dana White is staying true to his word.
The UFC president said prior to UFC 246 that Khabib Nurmagomedov would be next for Conor McGregor if he were to beat Donald Cerrone in the main event and, after watching McGregor coolly dispose of ‘Cowboy’ in just 40 seconds on Saturday night, White doubled down on those sentiments and said ‘The Notorious’ will rematch ‘The Eagle’ in his next bout.
“There’s always somebody fun that can match up with Conor and everybody wants to fight Conor,” White said at the UFC 246 post fight press conference, per MMA Fighting. “Everybody’s wanted to fight Conor for the last however many years. When you look at what makes sense, we’re at a place where Conor was saying going into the Khabib fight, he had a lot of personal stuff. Some stuff self-inflicted, he had injuries and he had all these things going on, and he has been obsessed with getting that rematch, because he knows that he wasn’t 100 percent right.
“When you look at this for Khabib — Khabib is 28-0, he’s undefeated, and you start talking about this kid’s legacy. First of all, to 28-0 in this sport, I don’t care who you fought, it’s tough to do. Well, this guy’s a world champion. After tonight and with how Khabib won the fight the first time and how famous Khabib has become since that first fight, we’re looking at [Marvin] Hagler-[Tommy] Hearns. [Muhammad] Ali-[George] Foreman. Ali-[Joe] Frazier. This is a massive fight with global appeal. It’s the fight that you make. It’s the fight that makes sense. It’s the fight for the 155-pound title.”
Although fans are clamouring to see McGregor take on Jorge Masvidal for the ‘BMF’ title, White thinks Khabib vs. McGregor 2 makes more sense from a business standpoint for a number of reasons.
“If Conor and Masvidal fight, neither one of them even has a title, although Conor does want his “BMF” title, but he doesn’t have a world championship,” White said. “Khabib’s the fight to make. It’s huge for Khabib’s legacy, too. If he beat Conor McGregor, and then he beats Tony Ferguson, and then he beats Conor McGregor again, this is how this kid when he retires, he’s 30-something and 0 and he’s beat all the best.
“I’m telling you right now Khabib versus Conor is the biggest fight in the company and the sport’s history, but I think it might rival Conor and Floyd [Mayweather].”
Khabib submitted McGregor at UFC 229 and has since gone on to defend his lightweight title against Dustin Poirier and cement his status as one of the very best pound-for-pound fighters in the sport. The undefeated Dagestani has claimed McGregor would have to win at least ten more bouts before he accepts a rematch with ‘The Notorious’ but White believes he can talk Khabib round to the match-up.
“The reality is Khabib has never turned down a fight – ever,” White said. “Khabib doesn’t turn down fights; that’s not his style. He hates Conor McGregor and Conor McGregor hates him. So anytime you talk about one to the other, those are the types of responses you’re going to get.”
Khabib is expected to defend his lightweight title against Tony Ferguson at UFC 249. The highly anticipated pay-per-view will take place later this year, April 18 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.