Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov again arranged a skirmish on social networks. Two days after the end of UFC 249, the ex-champion in two weight categories walked through all the lightweight stars, and especially the current holder of the belt. Many perceived this as an attempt by the Irishman not only to attract attention, but also to pave the shortest path to the title.
So, MacGregor once again criticized Nurmagomedov for not the most striking fighting style and laughed at the photograph in which Khabib is depicted in the company of teammates. However, he did not limit himself to insulting the Russian citizen and walked over the newly minted UFC interim champion. In a rather harsh form, Conor announced his desire to fight Gatzy, promising to "make a necklace out of his teeth." Given the fact that earlier in the media there were already rumors about the Irishman’s desire to wedge in the race for the belt, an attempt to provoke Justin seems logical.
At the moment, McGregor understands that he can’t get the title fight bypassing Gatgy. Firstly, Nurmagomedov himself is not interested in a rematch, so he does not intend to contribute to his speedy organization. If Habib had treated the re-engagement with Conor as well as a possible duel with Georges Saint-Pierre, there would have been much less organization problems.
Secondly, Justin’s position is protected by both a temporary title and promotion loyalty. Dana White is unlikely to immediately forget the fact that the American went to meet the organization in a difficult period, and did not personally deprive him of the battle for the championship. Thus, the Irishman can only try to get the vis-a-vis off himself so that he himself agrees to meet with him in the octagon.
However, Gatgi should not follow McGregor’s lead, but calmly wait for the opportunity to fight for the belt. The status of a temporary champion is the guarantor of a duel with Nurmagomedov, and you should not voluntarily abandon it for the sake of a monetary battle, but meaningless from the tournament point of view. In this case, he runs the risk of following Ferguson’s example and making a fatal mistake. After all, Tony could wait out the pandemic and face off with Habib, but instead he dared to take a desperate step.
It is worth noting that, despite the difference in the level of hype between the battles between Nurmagomedov and Gatgi and McGregor, the duel Justin will not be an absolute failure from a financial point of view. At UFC 249, he gained star status and dealt Ferguson in front of the entire sports community. And Tony had a series of 12 victories in a row and did not lose for eight years.
Thus, match makers should pay Gatgy for loyalty to the championship and provide him with not only the opportunity to fight for the belt, but also the set time for rest and preparation. This question may be particularly acute given the fact that Nurmagomedov has already managed to declare his desire to return to the cell in July. But in such a short period of time, Justin will not have time to move away from the bloody battle with Tony and hold a full-fledged training camp.
Of course, in this case, Orel will have an additional advantage over the applicant, but this situation can negatively affect his image. The case of refusal to speak at UFC 249 has already dealt a serious blow to Nurmagomedov’s reputation, and a battle with an incompletely restored opponent will only worsen the situation. Dana White and the company need to consider these aspects and arrange a title fight at least in the second half of August.
It is no secret that the version is currently being actively discussed in the MMA community, according to which Gatzhi’s replacement of Nurmagomedov was pre-planned by manager Ali Abdel-Aziz, who runs the affairs of both athletes. In this regard, many do not exclude that the upcoming fight between the athletes is just a formality, and Justin will not intentionally resist Habib. In the event that the battle takes place in July, such conversations can only intensify, which certainly will not strengthen the legacy of the Russian.
Nevertheless, there is no reason to believe that the fight between Nurmagomedov and Gatzhi may be of a contractual nature. On paper, the fans are waiting for a very interesting battle, with the potential to become no less interesting than the main event of UFC 242. Unlike Porye, the interim champion has a much stronger blow and a serious wrestling base, which will help him in the battle with Habib. In addition, in a duel with Ferguson, he demonstrated tactical flexibility and the ability to adapt to a specific opponent, which is a great merit of his coach Trevor Wittman. If the legendary mentor manages to make the right plan for a fight with a Russian, then the American will have chances.
As for McGregor, the most logical would be to organize his revenge with Porrier. At the moment, both fighters do not have planned fights and may very well face off in the summer. If earlier the catch was Conor’s reluctance to fight in the empty stands, now this barrier is no longer there. The Irishman himself said that he wants to return to the cage as soon as possible, even if you have to speak without spectators.
Given that Nurmagomedov will meet with Gatgy, and Ferguson will have a long recovery from UFC 249, Porrier is an ideal opponent for McGregor. Firstly, the victory over the former contender for the belt will provide the Irishman first place in the ranking of the division, and secondly, Dustin's style is perfect for Conor. Confirmation of this was the devastating defeat of the American in 2014. Then he managed to hold out just 106 seconds.
Undoubtedly, for six years Porier changed the category and seriously added to the skill, but still remains extremely convenient for McGregor. Dustin himself is unlikely to decide to transfer the fight to the stalls and prefers to trade with a counterpart in the stance, and in this aspect he is significantly inferior to Conor. Notorius has a much more powerful and delivered blow, as well as a wider arsenal. Suffice it to recall that the outcome of the duel with Donald Cerrone was predetermined by the magnificent left hi-kick.
In this situation, Ferguson has the most unenviable position. A defeat from Gatgy threw him out of the title race, and a fracture of the orbital bone delayed his return to the octagon for a long time. Considering that it takes from four months to a year to treat such injuries, by the time of the next fight Tony can turn 37 years old - more than a serious age for representatives of light weight categories.
Given that Ferguson missed a huge number of hardest blows and suffered tremendous damage during the fight, he risks becoming much more susceptible to hits. It's no secret that over the years, athletes become less stable, and it takes much less effort to knock them out. It is enough to recall the examples of Andrei Orlovsky and Antonio Silva.
In addition, Ferguson’s prospects in the division were called into question. Even with his long win-win streak, he still could not fight for the title, which indicates a not very loyal attitude from the leadership. There is every reason to believe that in the near future he will not be able to count on meetings with representatives of the top 3 ratings and will be identified as gatekeepers. He will have to fight with talented, promising fighters who seek to compete for the title.
At the moment, his battle with rival caliber Dan Hooker and Charles Oliveira, as well as a possible revenge with Kevin Lee, seems most likely. But even a confident victory over one of the opponents is unlikely to allow him to count on a fight for the title or a rematch with Gatzy.