Conor McGregor’s name is being linked with a growing list of potential opponents for his long-awaited return to the octagon, with the likes of Nate Diaz, Max Holloway and the winner of Tony Ferguson v Kevin Lee, all being suggested.
The Irishman himself has been speaking in recent days at a fan event in Glasgow and he also dropped these names as ‘options’. He also included a possible rematch with Floyd Mayweather or a clash with former boxing sparring partner Paulie Malignaggi as additional options for him to choose from.
Despite naming the two retired boxers, however, all assumptions are that the UFC lightweight champion will return to the code that made him a household name.
Having been away from the Octagon for almost a year, fans are eager to see him pull on the four-ounce gloves once more and dazzle them all with yet another pay-per-view busting showcase.
With the ability to sell a headline fight on his own, plus with UFC president Dana White willing to give his prized fighter a mile, where other fighters are only given an inch, McGregor appears to have the luxury of making the fight of his choosing.
All we know for sure is that whoever stands across the octagon from the Irishman when he returns, it is going to be an incredible spectacle.
The question that must be answered now is just who deserves it more? Who will tick all the boxes to both peak McGregor’s interest and also hold up their end from a pay-per-view perspective?
Let’s look at the options.
First up, the seemingly inevitable trilogy fight with Nate Diaz…
Having faced off twice already at 170 lb and with the score even at 1 – 1, McGregor has already stated he wants to go for a best of three with the Stockton fighter. The only stipulation the lightweight champion has put forward is that any clash between the pair must now take place at 155 lb.
Appetite for the trilogy fight is huge and Diaz has seemed to all but rule out any return to the Octagon unless it is to settle the score with the Irishman. Selling this fight would be as easy as breathing.
Next up there is the chance to defend his lightweight title against the soon-to-be-known interim champion.
The inaugural interim title at 155 lb will be decided at UFC 216 on Saturday when longtime contender Tony Ferguson takes on the up and coming Kevin Lee in what is expected to be a dynamic and bruising encounter.
Ferguson has long been of the opinion that McGregor should either ‘defend or vacate’ and with a title defence the only thing missing from the Irishman’s impressive resume, many fans would like to be keen to see a unification bout in the near future, be it against ‘El Cucuy’ or Lee.
Then, there is always the option of a return to the featherweight ranks to face new champion, Max Holloway.
The Hawaiian has been making a lot of noise in recent days about a rematch with the last person to defeat the streaking champion.
When the pair faced off all those moons ago back in 2013 at UFC Fight Night 26, McGregor dominated Holloway over three rounds, despite tearing his ACL midway through the second stanza.
Since then, both fighters have gone on to greatness, with McGregor decimating the featherweight ranks before dethroning long-time champion Jose Aldo in emphatic fashion at UFC 194.
As for Holloway, he has not lost a fight since his decision defeat to McGregor, winning 11 consecutive fights, the last being a demolition of Aldo for the title back in June at UFC 212.
A rematch between the pair throws up many a tantalising sub-plot but it had always been wondered if McGregor has either the appetite or ability to make the harrowing journey back down to 145 lb.
The current featherweight champion ha, however, accepted that in order to face McGregor again, he would have to make the jump to lightweight, something he has stated he is willing to do.
It’s fair to say that whenever McGregor does return, be it later this year or early in 2018, the hype surrounding whatever fight scheduled for the MMA superstar is going to be up there with the biggest spectacles ever in the UFC.
Luckily for McGregor, each of his last four fights in the octagon have re-written the pay-per-view records so it should just be another ‘day in the life’ for the biggest name in MMA.