He may not be winning many fights these days – or even fighting much at all, for that matter – but there’s no question that Conor McGregor remains one of the world’s biggest combat sports stars. Each of his past three PPV events have sold exceedingly well, with his trilogy bout against Dustin Poirier last July reportedly coming in at 1.8 million buys.
And that’s the kind of math that, wins or no, is going to keep the ‘Notorious’ Irishman’s name at the front of UFC title conversations. Even coming off a pair of decisive losses.
Don’t believe it? Look no further than UFC president Dana White, who gave some life to the idea of a McGregor title shot in 2022 during a recent interview with The Underground (transcript via MMA Fighting).
“It’s gonna depend on who the champion is,” White explained when asked about title contender Conor McGregor. “The champion has some say in that, too. Who’s gonna be the champ when Conor McGregor comes back? And what do they wanna do? If you look at [Charles] Oliveira, right... if it’s still Oliveira by the time he comes back, maybe Oliveira wants Conor. Who knows? I don’t know. We’ll see what happens.”
“There’s a lot of variables that have to come together for him to come back and fight,” he added. “No. 1 is health and how’s his leg. Then once that’s 100 percent then we’ll start to figure out where he goes. Because a lot of these — we have fights made all the way up to June 18 already. Once he’s 100 percent ready to go, we’ll get him figured out and we’ll see what’s what with the lightweight division and we’ll get him figured out.”
McGregor suffered a brutal lower leg break during his last bout, against Poirier, at UFC 264, and is currently still rehabbing the injury. But, in a recent interview with Severe MMA, the former two-division titleholder said he expects to be back sparring by April.
In the meantime, champion Charles Oliveira is fresh off his first title defense—a submission victory over Poirier, at UFC 269, back in December. ‘Do Brox’ is currently gearing up to defend his belt again, in early May, against former Interim champion Justin Gaethje. Following his recent victory over Bobby Green, Islam Makhachev would seem like the obvious next man in line, but that doesn’t mean anything is guaranteed.
“If your man’s wise, he might give it another month or two,” McGregor told Severe MMA, speaking of Oliveira’s future title defense plans. “July seems OK for me. I can’t say too early, but July, if I’m sparring in April, May, June, July — I could slap the head off of most of these guys at the end of April.”
UFC 274 is expected to go down on May 7th, in Phoenix, AZ, with the lightweight title fight between Oliveira and Gaethje penciled in for the main event. A lightweight action fight between Donald Cerrone and Joe Lauzon is also planned for the card.