We’re only four months away from UFC 229 and it’s looking a lot more likely that a fight between Conor McGregor and reigning UFC Lightweight Champion Khabib Nurmagomedov could be taking place on that October 6 card.
Nurmagomedov used social media this week to post a cryptic photo on his Instagram account that has many believing the fight with McGregor is going to be officially announced sometime soon. That’s despite UFC President Dana White denying such a fight was under consideration for UFC 229.
The 29-year-old Lightweight title holder is seen striking a grappling dummy and is accompanied by a caption saying: “Smash him soon.” The post came less than 12 hours after Russian footballer Artem Dzubya took some time off from the World Cup to send Khabib a video in which he’s holding a signed Russian shirt with the UFC fighter’s name on the back. In the video the footballer wishes his compatriot the best of luck in his upcoming fight with McGregor.
Will McGregor Return to the UFC?
If the fight does go ahead it will be McGregor’s first fight in UFC since he beat Eddie Alvarez in November 2016 to win the UFC Lightweight title. He got that title shot ahead of Nurmagomedov who wasn’t exactly happy at McGregor getting the title opportunity.
McGregor’s win made him a two-weight UFC Champion having previously won the featherweight title, but he hasn’t fought in UFC since that win over Alvarez. He took time off to get used to being a father and to negotiate a multi-million-dollar boxing contest with Floyd Mayweather. He lost that bout in August 2017 by TKO in the 10th round and hasn’t had a fight since. Could October see his return to try and regain the title he never lost in the Octagon?
There would certainly be plenty of heat in a match between McGregor and the Russian after the incident earlier this year that has seen the Irishman charged with several offences including three of assault after allegedly attacking a bus that Nurmagomedov was traveling on. If the fight doesn’t take place, then it’s believed that it will be Tony Ferguson who will get a shot at the title.
Champ isn’t Unbeatable
The Russian champion is unbeaten in 26 fights, the longest winning streak in MMA history. He defeated Al Laquinta in April at UFC 223 to win the vacant title. McGregor’s striking coach, Owen Roddy believes the champion would be a serious threat to the Irishman, but he isn’t unbeatable, and the McGregor team would work out his weaknesses. “Khabib brings a lot of problems, as do all fighters. But he’s not bulletproof. It’s not an impossible code to crack,” said Roddy.
The big question isn’t just whether the fight will be announced for UFC 229 but whether McGregor can launch a successful comeback to the sport after being out of the Octagon for nearly two years. He certainly doesn’t need the money after the Mayweather fight, but he may feel there’s unfinished business for him in the UFC and one gets the feeling that he would love to put the Russian in his place by taking away his Lightweight title.