Former two-division UFC champion Conor McGregor believes he’ll meet Manny Pacquiao in the boxing ring before the year is over.
McGregor is currently gearing up for a fight with the UFC’s No. 2-ranked lightweight contender, Dustin Poirier, which will headline the UFC 257 card on January 23.
Like Pacquiao, Poirier is a southpaw with big power, and McGregor has made no secret of the fact that he views this UFC matchup as a solid warmup for a boxing match with the Filipino star.
Speaking on the Weighing In podcast with John McCarthy and Josh Thomson this week, McGregor was asked about a potential boxing match with Pacquiao. He once again admitted that Poirier being an elite southpaw was part of the reason he accepted the fight, and revealed that a fight with Pacquiao could happen before 2021 is over.
“That is certainly how the southpaw bout came about with Dustin—that, and also he’s No. 1 in the rankings I believe,” McGregor said. “He’s right atop the division, so it makes sense. But I certainly wanted to get in with a good southpaw, and Manny is in the wings waiting. I know those talks are intensifying, and I believe sometime this year, maybe later this year, this bout will take place.”
While McGregor is hoping to fight Pacquiao before the year his out, his main priority is staying active—whether it’s in MMA or boxing. He will enter this fight with Poirier having not fought since January, 2020, when he knocked out Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone, and as he’s stated previously, he prefers to stay active.
“I do not want to sit around,” McGregor said. “I’m at my best in competition. I need competition for me to be at my best, at my sharpest. How can I be at my sharpest and my absolute best if I have a bout, then a year goes by, and I have a bout, then another year goes by. I need to be getting in there.
“What happened in 2020 [with my retirement] was there wasn’t that many options,” McGregor added. “Khabib [Nurmagomedov] didn’t want the fight. He doesn’t want the fight and it’s as simple as that. It is what it is. That kind of halted the post-Cowboy situation.
“Now I feel the lightweight division is moving into a spot [where] there’s many good contenders,” McGregor concluded. “Now I’ve committed to lightweight, which has allowed options to flourish. I see no issues with much competition this year, and I’m very excited about that.”
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