Conor McGregor has paid tribute to one of the sport of boxings’ most revered trilogies as speculation over his seemingly inevitable return continues to be rampant.
Is this a clue to the notorious champion’s intentions?
Yesterday, the UFC’s lightweight strap-holder Conor McGregor posted a picture of himself standing next to a rare signed photo of the legendary boxers Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier, who fought on three separate occasions – with Ali coming out on top with two victories.
The fights themselves were lauded as some of the most entertaining and ultimately brutal in the history of the sport and for both men, did wonders at elevating them into a category reserved for only the greatest athletes to have ever competed in the sweet science.
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Standing next to a rare signed photo of Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier. Two fighting greats who blessed all of us fight fans around the world with one of the most iconic rivalries the fight game has ever seen. 3 amazing contests that changed the lives of both men. Mentally, physically and spiritually. This rivalry lasted right to the end of time. Amazing.
No indication is given about when exactly the shot of McGregor was taken but given the re-emergence of the man he seems destined to take on in his own trilogy bout in Nate Diaz, it could well be a case of the Irishman choosing once again to stir the pot.
As many have pointed out, the UFC 223 contest between Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov will more-than-likely see them compete for the undisputed 155lb belt. The reasoning behind the fact that McGregor has not yet been stripped – according to the former-champ Eddie Alvarez – is simply because the pairing of Ferguson and Nurmagomedov has been booked on three separate occasions to date, with problems such as and injuries and illness causing the fight to be scrapped every time.
Taking a risk on a fight that seems to be cursed may well be too much to ask of the UFC given the lucrative prospects within the lightweight division. Alvarez’s theory does seem to make the most sense right now, but if the fight does go ahead, one would expect that the promotion will show their hand and strip their biggest star of his second title.
The interesting thing there, however, is that it would leave him free to pursue a rubber-match with Nate Diaz, who – as we know – as angling towards making a return this summer.
It could well be nothing, but for a man as calculated as he is, perhaps we should at least be prepared for the prospect of hearing a lot more about McGregor/Diaz III over the coming weeks, especially if Conor is stripped of his UFC title.
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena