The world of MMA is coming to terms with the new reality of a two-weight champion in the UFC as following Conor McGregor’s lightweight title clash with Eddie Alvarez in New York in the small hours of Sunday morning, that is exactly what we now have.
At the conclusion of the promotion’s triumphant return to the Big Apple, Conor McGregor had made history, just as he had predicted. Toying with Alvarez for eight minutes, the featherweight champion outclassed his opponent to such a degree that he made a hardened and experienced professional appear almost amateur by comparison.
It has been an incredible 12 months for the Irishman. This time last year, McGregor was building up to a featherweight title fight with his long term nemesis, Jose Aldo. In December, he took all of 13 seconds to end the reign of the long standing Brazilian, thus starting the road to two-weight gold.
A cancelled lightweight title fight with then champion, Rafael dos Anjos in March saw McGregor step up to welterweight at the last minute, to face Nate Diaz. This gamble served up the Dubliner’s first loss in the UFC. Rather than shrink back to featherweight, McGregor immediately set up a rematch with the Stockton native and in August, at UFC 202, redemption came in the form of a five round thriller.
A close fought and narrow victory for the featherweight king has never been accepted by Diaz, who to this day, continues to claim a 2-0 record against the smaller fighter.
Now, with the lightweight title secured alongside his featherweight belt, it seems that the fight that both men, along with many fans, want to see, could be moving to the top of the list of options now open to McGregor.
Speaking to Ariel Helwani on MMA Fighting’s ‘MMA Hour’, SBG coach and tactical genius John Kavanagh has suggested that he believes lightweight suits McGregor best and that a trilogy fight with Nate Diaz might be next for his double UFC champion fighter.
I’m going to give you my small opinion. I think the second best 145lber is Max Holloway, that’s my opinion, and I think the second best 155lber is Nate Diaz, that’s my opinion.
I think Nate would beat either Tony or Khabib. I think he really turned a corner in the Michael Johnson fight. I think we saw a new version of him.
He looked fantastic in both Conor fights, Conor just bested him. That’s my opinion – my small, unimportant opinion. There’s no need to tweet me your opinions. He asked me for mine, I’m just giving it.
That’s who I think the two best guys are.
I understand Khabib is the number one contender and it’s probably going to be him if that’s how the company works.
But for me, interest-wise, the Nate fight would interest me greater because of that.
If it’s Tony or if it’s Khabib then great. They’re two fantastic fighters. There’d be a lot to learn in the preparation for them and both would be extremely interesting fights to watch and problems to solve and to see Conor beating both of them and how he does it would be very interesting for me.
Video Credit: MMAFightingonSBN
Kavanagh chose Diaz over Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmogomedov as the division’s best contender to face McGregor at 155lb. With a 1-1 record at welterweight, McGregor had previously indicated that a third fight would happen at lightweight.
Based on the performance of the double champ on Sunday morning, lightweight would appear to be his ‘goldilocks’ weight. McGregor delivered perhaps his best performance in the octagon, never looking troubled or phased by the rock solid Alvarez.
A lightweight clash would Diaz certainly presents fans with a tantalising option for the future. With the ability to take untold amounts of punishment and still keep coming, Diaz has presented McGregor with his greatest challenge to date.
At what is clearly the Irishman’s best weight, a trilogy fight with Diaz, for the lightweight title, may well be something neither fighter, nor UFC president Dana White, could resist.
Gary Brennan, Pundit Arena
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