Conor McGregor hasn’t made any decisions yet regarding his next fight but it’s safe to assume that the reigning UFC lightweight champion will have an opinion when he finally sits down with the promotion to book his return to action.
This past weekend, Tony Ferguson became the interim lightweight champion in McGregor’s absence because he’s been focusing on his boxing match with Floyd Mayweather and hasn’t competed in the UFC since November 2016. Afterwards, UFC president Dana White said unifying the titles with a fight between McGregor and Ferguson was the only matchup that made sense.
Well, McGregor’s head striking coach Owen Roddy disagrees and says that a third fight against Nate Diaz is still the matchup that fans would rather see after they engaged in two epic battles in 2016.
“I honestly think that people would rather, like, I think people would rather see Conor vs. Diaz,” Roddy told Submission Radio this week. “I just think it’s a more exciting fight for everybody, you know what I mean? It’s the trilogy, the first two fights, the back and forth between the guys and the way the fights went. You know, who wouldn’t want to see the third fight? But of course, it makes sense that [Ferguson] fights, he defends the belt. Whatever happens, I don’t know, but I said this already, I would like to see Diaz three. The Ferguson fight is an interesting one as well. Like, he’s an exciting fighter so it will be an exciting fight. So either or, either or.
“I’d just be happy to get Conor back in the UFC, fighting in the cage and doing what we do best. I just can’t wait for that first to go again or, you know? So I just want to see him back in there sooner rather than later.”
As far as the potential matchup with Ferguson, Roddy sees a lot of areas where McGregor would have an advantage in that fight but none bigger than if the two lightweights decided to stay standing in the center of the Octagon.
While Ferguson has shown off some impressive kickboxing skills in past matchups with fighters such as Rafael dos Anjos, Roddy feels like he would be facing a completely different kind of animal going up against McGregor.
“He’s good, obviously. He wouldn’t be the interim champion if he wasn’t good. His style is, you know, it’s not traditional, it’s a bit unorthodox and stuff, but I just honestly think that Conor’s going to be way too clean for Ferguson,” Roddy explained. “If Ferguson tries to stand with Conor for an extended period of time it will be lights out, in my opinion.
“You know, he’s tough as well, he’s tough and durable, so he may take a couple of smacks, but at the end of the day Conor’s going to be way too clean and too technical — he won’t get touched. That’s my opinion. But yeah, it will be an interesting one and it will be an exciting fight as well because Ferguson does come to fight and he’s aggressive, he goes in, he looks to finish fights, so it will be exciting. But yeah, without a doubt if he wants to stand and bang with Conor it’ll be lights out fairly quick, I think.”
The other factor that Roddy feels like makes Diaz a more intriguing opponent for McGregor is his tougheness that allowed the former title contender to go five hard rounds with him during their rematch at UFC 202.
McGregor’s punches have finished numerous fighters since joining the UFC ranks but Diaz is the one person who has eaten all of those shots and still come back for more. Roddy isn’t so sure Ferguson could absorb that kind of damage without going down and out for good.
“I think the one unique thing that Diaz has is just that unbelievable chin, and like, I don’t think Ferguson would be able to take the shots that Diaz took,” Roddy said. “Do you know what I mean? I think he would be asleep or the ref would have stepped in and have stopped the fight if Conor lands. Where Diaz, like, Conor was landing all the shots on Diaz as well and all the other stuff that we came up with worked against Diaz, it’s just he kept coming and coming and coming and coming. I don’t think Ferguson is as durable as Diaz, so I think we’ll be well able to land the shots.
“You know, there’s plenty of holes in there in Ferguson’s game and I think we can capitalize and land any shots that we need to land.”
White stated on Saturday that there have been no talks regarding McGregor vs. Diaz 3 but both of the Irishman’s coaches have said recently that’s the fight they prefer. McGregor has also addressed the possibility and he certainly has the star power to make demands for his next fight when he finally returns to the UFC.
For now it will just be wait and see as the world anxiously awaits McGregor’s return once a date and opponent have been determined.