Dana White: If Tony Ferguson isn’t ready for Khabib, Conor McGregor could step in

Ken Pishna
MMA Weekly
Tony Ferguson over Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor - UFC 229
Tony Ferguson over Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor - UFC 229

UFC president Dana White has been steadfast that Tony Ferguson should get the next shot at the UFC lightweight title. Before their bout at UFC 242 on Saturday in Abu Dhabi, Khabib Nurmagomedov and Dustin Poirier both said the same. Ferguson had definitely earned a shot at the belt.

"He’s next. Tony Ferguson is next in line for the fight, if he accepts the fight. We’ll see how this thing plays out, when Khabib will fight again and if Tony wants to fight," White said at the UFC 242 post-fight press conference.

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Nurmagomedov dominated Poirier, as he has so many other opponents, by taking him down and mauling him. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. He wore Poirier down, setting up a third-round submission via rear-naked choke.

It's similar to what Nurmagomedov did to Conor McGregor nearly a year ago at UFC 229. 

Nurmagomedov has shown little interest in a rematch with the Irishman, but what happens if Ferguson isn't ready or willing when Nurmagomedov's next fight rolls around? Queue Conor McGregor.

Why would Dana White book a Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Conor McGregor rematch?

While the slot opposite Nurmagomedov in the champ's next fight is his, if Ferguson isn't ready to roll for whatever reason, White said that a rematch between Nurmagomedov and McGregor "would make a lot of sense."

"Tony Ferguson gets the next shot. If for whatever reason Tony can’t take the fight or doesn’t want the fight at that time, then we would figure out what was next, but yeah, Conor would make a lot of sense," White said when asked about a potential rematch.

But why would McGregor be next when there are fighters like Justin Gaethje knocking on the door? It's all about the Benjamins.

While there are solid opponents fighting their way into the queue in the lightweight division, Khabib vs. Conor is already a proven blockbuster. When they fought at UFC 229, it accounted for the biggest mixed martial arts pay-per-view event in history. It also set gate and attendance records for in Nevada, which is the centerpoint of the sport in the United States.

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Though McGregor hasn't set foot in the Octagon since tapping out to Nurmagomedov at UFC 229, he's a superstar of the magnitude that can make demands such as an undeserved rematch. After all, he knows the kind of money that rolls through the door when he strolls into the Octagon.

"Conor McGregor wants that fight really badly," said White. "And I’m sure the fans would want to see it."

For now, however, the fight is Ferguson's to take or refuse.

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