After Conor ‘The Notorious’ McGregor blasted Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone with a first-round knockout in just 40 seconds in Saturday’s UFC 246 headliner from Las Vegas, it became clear that the former double champion is back to stay and means business again.
McGregor stated ahead of the scrap with Cerrone that he wanted to have an active 2020 and fight at least three times. Although Dana White spent much of the UFC 246 post-fight presser pushing a rematch between McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov, there’s a slew of problems with that notion.
First, Nurmagomedov is set to defend his lightweight title against Tony Ferguson at UFC 249 on April 18. That’s going to be a war and the winner is bound to come out of it with injuries that need time to heal.
Also, Nurmagomedov is a practicing Muslim who recognizes Ramadan, which is from April 24 to May 23 in 2020. ‘The Eagle’ doesn’t train during this month.
Therefore, if he retains his belt, Nurmagomedov isn’t going to be looking to fight again until the fall. One would think a date in September is probably the earliest a McGregor-Nurmagomedov rematch could be booked.
Books have released new odds for McGregor after he posted his first UFC win since beating Eddie Alvarez to win the lightweight belt in 2016.
BetOnline has a proposition wager with odds on McGregor’s next opponent. A date with welterweight contender Jorge Masvidal is the -150 ‘chalk.’
The next-shortest odds belong to Nurmagomedov (+275), Ferguson (+600), Justin ‘The Highlight’ Gaethje (+600), Nate Diaz (+1000 or 10/1), welterweight champ Kamaru Usman (10/1) and Floyd Mayweather Jr. (12/1).
The offshore shop also has this prop, “Will Trump attend McGregor’s next fight?” ‘No’ is a -500 favorite, while ‘yes’ offers a +300 return.
McGregor and Trump tweeted at each other with admiration earlier this week:
BetOnline currently has Masvidal installed as a -165 favorite vs. McGregor, who is a +145 underdog. William Hill has Masvidal at -170 with McGregor at +140 on the comeback, while Sportsbook has Masvidal -175 with McGregor at +130.
Appearing on The Ariel Helwani Show earlier this week, McGregor’s coach John Cavanaugh revealed his preference for the Irishman’s next scrap.
“Justin Gaethje at 170,” Kavanagh said. “That would be my personal preference … because he’s another lightweight. I don’t see the reason for him to cut weight unless there’s a significant – there has to be a belt on the line.”
Gaethje wasn’t happy about McGregor fighting Cerrone in the first place, especially since he had just scored a first-round KO over ‘Cowboy’ his last time out. Gaethje called it a “(expletive) move.”
McGregor acknowledged questions about Gaethje last week and seemed willing to face him, perhaps as soon as his next bout.
Gaethje told MMA Junkie earlier this week, “Ultimately that dude (McGregor) makes his own decisions, and I think he has more confidence now. He needed a win (over Cerrone). Yeah, I think he’ll fight me now.”
There’s also the possibility of completing the trilogy with Nate Diaz, who wasn’t impressed with Saturday’s performance.
Diaz also took aim at Masvidal’s wardrobe, which was a black robe that McGregor also mocked at his post-fight presser.
William Hill opened McGregor as a -250 favorite vs. Diaz (+175) earlier this week, and there hasn’t been any line movement yet. The fighters famously split a pair of fights in 2016.
Facing McGregor on less than two weeks of notice after Rafael dos Anjos pulled out of a bout with McGregor due to a foot injury, Diaz submitted him late in Round 2. Diaz granted an immediate rematch, one that McGregor won by majority decision in a bloodbath that could’ve gone either way at UFC 202.
Diaz returned from a three-year layoff to defeat Anthony ‘Showtime’ Pettis by unanimous decision at UFC 241 last August. Then at UFC 244 with the ‘BMF’ title on the line, Masvidal defeated Diaz by TKO when the doctor stopped the fight before Round 4 due to a cut above Diaz’s right eye.
When asked to comment on Diaz’s social-media remarks after his win over Cerrone, McGregor said, “Let’s go, Nathan. Let’s go brother. Number three. It’s always here. So we’re right here Nathan.”
As for a McGregor-Gaethje scrap, Sportsbook has it currently listed as a pick ’em (-115 either way). Williams Hill has ‘The Notorious’ as a -137 favorite, leaving Gaethje at +110 odds.
Sportsbook has Nurmagomedov installed as a -330 ‘chalk’ vs. McGregor (+250), while William Hill has Nurmagomedov at -333 with McGregor at +240.