It appears Conor McGregor might be gearing up for a title unification bout after all.
The reigning lightweight champion is still pondering the date for his return to the Octagon, but McGregor and his team seem to be preparing for an eventual showdown with Tony Ferguson rather than a previously proposed match-up against Nate Diaz.
Ferguson won the UFC interim lightweight title just weeks ago with a submission victory against Kevin Lee, but there was still nothing set in stone that he would get to McGregor next, as a trilogy fight with Diaz still loomed large on the horizon.
Now it seems those winds have shifted toward a fight with Ferguson instead, as McGregor’s striking coach Owen Roddy noted in a recent appearance on the Talking Brawls podcast.
“When the word goes out like that and people start talking about it, it’s usually not far off of the deal being done,” Roddy said about the potential match-up between McGregor and Ferguson. “It could be a good one. Ferguson is the interim champion and rightfully so. He had a good performance against Lee and he’s had a lot of good performances.
“I’d like to see it. People, including myself, were talking about the Diaz fight, but who knows, that may come again. But if it’s Ferguson, that’s going to be a cracker as well. I still see the same outcome.”
Ferguson is currently riding a 10-fight winning streak, so his ascent to the top of the division has been well earned, but he still has to go through McGregor if he wants to be called the undisputed lightweight champion.
McGregor has backed up every bold prediction he’s made since coming to the UFC and Roddy feels like it will be more of the same against Ferguson, especially if the former “Ultimate Fighter” winner decides to test his striking against the current lightweight champion.
“If they’re standing for any sort of extended period on the feet, it’ll be a quick one and that’s it,” Roddy said about the match-up.
“He’s just not as tidy as Conor. You play the percentages, and Conor’s the cleaner, more refined striker. Ferguson is tough, he’s unorthodox, but in my opinion Conor’s just the superior striker, most definitely.”
Of course, Roddy knows, even as McGregor’s striking coach, his influence on whom the Irishman faces next is minimal because ultimately it comes down to the fighters and the UFC to make that decision.
Still, given the current atmosphere in the lightweight division, where Diaz hasn’t competed since he lost to McGregor in 2016, while Ferguson is walking around with an interim belt and a 10-fight winning streak, it seems momentum has shifted towards a title unification bout.
“That’s what Dana White is saying and because Ferguson is picking at Conor and stuff like that, it’s starting to look like the more logical fight, but who knows?” Roddy added.
“[Ferguson] definitely brings problems and people are asking for it, that’s the most important thing. Obviously, money talks at the end of the day and whatever makes the most money is what both people would go for. But because people are asking for it and posting about it, that’s starting to gain the momentum that’s needed to get that big fight. It’s starting to build. It’ll be a good fight. It’ll definitely be a good fight.”