One of 2018’s biggest MMA mysteries is if Conor McGregor will return to MMA and who would he fight. Titles, contracts, it doesn’t matter, McGregor can decide whatever he wants to do and that’s one of the things that makes him so compelling, yet so frustrating. Out of nowhere, Dana White popped onto FS1 this afternoon and opened up about Conor McGregor. While has seems to have no idea what his plans are either, he did say that if he returns to the UFC, he has to defend his belt. Whether that be against Tony Ferguson, or whoever may beat him for the interim title depending on how long it takes McGregor to return.
“If Conor McGregor fights next year, that’ll be awesome. If Conor McGregor doesn’t fight, the UFC will go on. […] There’s two different sides to this coin, there’s the one that you just said [about it being hard to wake up in the morning and get hit in the face when you’re so rich], then there’s the one where there is only many trips you can go on and there’s only so much stuff you can buy before you start to get bored and you want to get back in the game. So, I don’t know. I don’t really have a feel on what Conor wants to do. Conor’s rich, it’s the holidays, I’m sure his whole family has a great Christmas. We’ll see what the New Year brings.”
— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) December 21, 2017
“What we have to do, is he needs to defend that [UFC lightweight] title. Nate [Diaz] isn’t even in the title picture. Nate’s ranked – that’s one of those fights that shouldn’t have been made in the first place, but it happened at that time and it was great, it was an amazing fight. People loved it, so somewhere down the line there’s a possibility for a trilogy, but right now he has to defend his title against Tony Ferguson. Tony Ferguson is the fight right now and is the move if he wants to come back. […] Whoever wins the [Edson] Barboza/Khabib [Nurmagomedov] fight while we’re trying to figure out this Conor mess, could end up fighting Tony Ferguson for the opportunity to fight Conor McGregor. So, we’ll see.” — Dana White on Skip and Shannon: Undisputed.
One thing Dana White did rule out, is a fight with Nate Diaz. It looks like if Conor McGregor doesn’t come back promptly to fight Tony Ferguson, he will not be stripped. Instead, the winner of Edson Barboza’s fight with Khabib Nurmagomedov would decide to gets to fight Ferguson for the interim lightweight title, who would then get a chance to fight McGregor. If this is the case, then it would be an unprecedented interim title defense. However, all this is just talk until the self-proclaimed Champ Champ walks into the Octagon.
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 12/28/2017.