Since Conor McGregor made quick work of Donald Cerrone in his UFC comeback in January, anticipation has swirled around his next fight.
A rematch against lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov will have to wait. Nurmagomedov has remained in Dagestan during the COVID-19 pandemic and is tending to his father’s health. Whenever he does return to the Octagon, interim lightweight champ Justin Gaethje is waiting to challenge him for the undisputed title.
And for whatever reason, a BMF bout against Jorge Masvidal isn’t in the works despite being an obviously massive draw between two of the sport’s biggest talkers and most explosive fighters.
Silva vs. McGregor?
Could a legacy fight against Anderson Silva be next? Both fighters are ready to make it happen.
Silva floated the idea of a catchweight superfight on Instagram on Wednesday.
“I have an immense admiration for the great athlete Conor and I believe that a super fight would be something historic for the sport,” Silva wrote, per The Mac Life translation. “Neither of us need to prove anything to anyone; I believe UFC and sport fans would like to see this great martial show, testing my martial skills with him would be fantastic!!”
Silva’s message appeared to be in response to McGregor calling him the MMA GOAT on Twitter last week.
The array of finishes, across 2 divisions, with champion status in 1, Anderson Silva is No.1 MMA GOAT.
My array of finishes, across 3 divisions, with champion status in 2, I’m No.2. If not tied 1.
However still active, No.1 is fully secured by career end. And easily.
— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) May 23, 2020
Conor accepts Silva’s challenge
On Thursday, McGregor accepted the challenge.
Could McGregor vs. Silva actually happen?
The former middleweight champion who held on to his belt for a record span of almost seven years that included 10 title defenses has been called by more than McGregor the greatest MMA fighter of all time. The fight has obvious appeal considering the significant legacies carried by each fighter, even if Silva is 45 and well past his prime.
But that age gap brings up obvious concerns. McGregor, 31, is in his prime and looking to get back into title contention. Fighting 37-year-old “Cowboy” in a comeback fight is one thing. Facing Silva on the edge of retirement is another.
There’s also the weight gap. McGregor is a two-division champion at featherweight (145 pounds) and lightweight (155 pounds). Stepping up to meet a fighter who traditionally fights two weight classes above him would provide another challenge — as it would for Silva in cutting weight if they were to meet at the proposed 176-pound catchweight.
But if they — and White — want to make this fight happen bad enough, they will. And it would be a huge draw. But that second if is the one that counts.
White talked about McGregor with ESPN on Thursday. While he didn’t mention the Silva callout specifically, he doesn’t sound ready to give this fight the green light.
“Conor and I have not talked about fighting,” White said. “If you're Conor, sitting at home, everybody is calling you out, in every weight division. Who's next? I'm waiting for [heavyweight Daniel Cormier] to call him out, you know? Conor, his personality, he's going to respond to that.
“I think what Conor needs to do is sit back and let these fights start rolling out. Obviously, the most important division is the 155-pound division. See what plays out.”
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