The identity of Conor McGregor’s next opponent is the hottest topic of discussion in the MMA world at the moment, and after the results of last night’s UFC on Fox 17 show things have gotten even more interesting.
Three different fighters called Conor McGregor out in their post-fight interviews at the Orlando event.
Featherweight Charles Oliveira was the first to do so, after he dispatched of Myles Jury. A pumped-up Nate Diaz followed hot on his heels – telling Conor that he was the “money fight” at 155lbs. Before, finally, Rafael dos Anjos sent his message to the Dubliner, in the immediate aftermath of a destructive 66-second win over Donald Cerrone. Speaking to Joe Rogan, the UFC lightweight champion claimed that he would be willing to fight McGregor anywhere, including Ireland.
While Oliveira isn’t a legitimate prospect, both Diaz and dos Anjos could potentially secure the fight. Also in the running, however, are former featherweight champion Jose Aldo, and Frankie “The Answer” Edgar.
With McGregor flirting with two separate weight-divisions, there is a whole host of deserving and legitimately dangerous fighters lining-up for a shot at the company cash-cow, and it will be interesting to see what way “The Notorious” one decides to go.
According to one man who finds himself very much in the middle of the situation, it will come down to exactly that – McGregor’s decision.
Ali Abdel-Aziz, who is the manager of both Frankie Edgar and Rafael dos Anjos, told Ariel Helwani of MMAFighting that he believes the choice of opponent is very much in the hands of the Irishman.
“Conor McGregor – he has his own brand. He makes the decision. All my respect to the UFC – I love those guys, Dana and Lorenzo, and those guys. But I feel they have created this monster. Now he is choosing where to go and where his next fight comes from”.
Abdel-Aziz added that he feels Conor is using this power to duck Edgar.
“He had a chance to fight Frankie Edgar back when Aldo got hurt. But he chose Chad Mendes because he knew Chad Mendes was injured. Now that he has the chance to fight Frankie again – he is running from Frankie”.
If Conor does select Frankie as his next opponent, however, Abdel-Aziz believes that his fighter will slow the hype train and silence the hyperbole.
“When Conor McGregor finally chooses to fight Frankie Edgar, he will not look the same. Everybody is probably not going to remember who he is after this fight”.
“When you fight Frankie Edgar, it’s different because he is going to ruin you”.
It seemed that a Conor McGregor vs Frankie Edgar fight was the match-up that most interested Abdel-Aziz, as he had a lot less to say about a potential super-fight between the featherweight titleholder and his other client, dos Anjos.
“If he fight’s Rafael dos Anjos, Rafael will ruin him too”, was the extent of what he had to say on that topic. Although on two occasions during the interview, he did claim that a McGregor leap to lightweight would be ill-advised.
“If he is crazy enough to go to 155, it’s suicide”, stated the noted manager.
McGregor’s coach, John Kavanagh, recently claimed that his fighter was hoping to be in action again by March or April, and once more at UFC 200 in July.
If he gets his wish, he may be able to satisfy both of Abdel-Aziz’ charges before the summer of 2016 is out.