After a fractious five months ended with Conor McGregor resiliently reclaiming his position as the biggest draw in combat sports, the Dubliner might be pitched right back into a fresh battle of wills with his UFC employers.
McGregor outlasted Nate Diaz through five rounds of punishment in Las Vegas at UFC 202 on Saturday night, settling the scores after he lost to Diaz in March, a defeat that kicked off a testing time between fighter and employers.
But in the immediate aftermath of the fifth-biggest gate in the UFC’s history, president Dana White insisted McGregor must now return to the featherweight division he dominated before this two-fight feud with Diaz — or relinquish the belt. That was met with a swift response.
“I don’t think they want to do that. How can they do that?” said McGregor, as his featherweight rival Jose Aldo Jr jumped on social media to demand that they do it again at UFC 205 in New York.
“What would that do to the division if the guy that I KO’d in 13 seconds [Aldo] is the champion? We’ve got a lot to talk about, but I’m in beautiful position now and that was built on hard work.
“We’ll see. I have other stuff in the pipeline. Shit is about to hit the fan, I feel.”
Whether McGregor could even make it back into featherweight fighting shape in time for the UFC’s historic first card in New York on November 12 remains to be seen.
The 28-year-old was on crutches in the immediate aftermath here and went straight to hospital after leaving the arena for a precautionary check-up before a post-fight party on the Strip.
“It’s the shin,” said McGregor, having been helped up the two steps to the stage by UFC staff.
“I kicked his knee clean, I think it was in the first round and then I just kept kicking but other than that, I’m perfect.”
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