Conor McGregor made history at UFC 205 when he effortlessly defeated Eddie Alvarez to become the new lightweight champion, thus becoming the first fighter in UFC history to hold a championship in two different weight classes simultaneously. But, while McGregor once again proved that he is, in fact, for real at UFC 205, MMA legend Dan Henderson thinks that his reign as a two-division champion will be a short one.
During his appearance on the Adam Carolla Show, the recently retired Henderson commented on McGregor’s most recent victory, and he predicted that the man who could very well be “Mystic Mac’s” next opponent — Khabib Nurmagomedov — will “beat the pi**” out of the two-division champ when they meet up inside the Octagon.
“I think that kid that fought last weekend, I have trouble with his name, the Russian kid, that’s at 155 — I think he would definitely give Conor a huge problem. I think he definitely would take him down and beat the pi** out of him.”
McGregor’s reign as a two-division champion may end up being short lived, but not because of any potential opponent. Leading up to UFC 205, Dana White said that McGregor would have to vacate one of his titles if he defeated Eddie Alvarez. As of this writing, McGregor hasn’t vacated one of his titles, but he probably will in the near future because it doesn’t look like he’s ever going to go back down to featherweight.
After being sidelined for all of last year due to nagging injuries, Nurmagomedov returned on UFC 205’s undercard, and improved to 24-0 by defeating Michael Johnson via unanimous decision. During the fight, “The Eagle” was constantly shouting at UFC president Dana White — who was sitting cageside for the bout — and demanding a shot at Conor McGregor next.
As of this writing, Nurmagomedov is the No. 1 ranked lightweight contender, and he’s 14th on the pound-for-pound list, per the UFC’s official rankings. But, that doesn’t mean that he’ll get the next title shot.
Last week, Nurmagomedov posted an update on Twitter, saying that he’ll leave the UFC if he doesn’t get the next lightweight title shot.
Rumor has it that Conor McGregor’s biggest rival — Nate Diaz — is going to get the first shot at the new lightweight champion. So, Khabib may end up on the sidelines for quite a while if he refuses to fight again unless he gets a title shot.
Most would argue that Nate Diaz — who is coming off of a loss to Conor McGregor — doesn’t deserve the next shot at the lightweight title. But, the new UFC ownership group — WME/IMG — is focused on making big money fights, and a third Diaz vs. McGregor fight would be a bigger money maker than a McGregor vs. Nurmagomedov fight, even though the latter fight makes more sense from a pure sport standpoint.
So, what’s next for Nurmagomedov if he doesn’t get the next shot at McGregor? Well, there’s really only one answer to that question: Tony Ferguson.
Right now, Ferguson is on a nine-fight winning streak, with five of the nine wins coming via submission. He’s also ranked No. 2 in the UFC’s lightweight division, behind Nurmagomedov. So, there’s a strong chance that the two will end up fighting each other next, and the winner will challenge the winner of the rumored Conor McGregor vs. Nate Diaz fight.
From a scheduling standpoint, a fight between Nurmagomedov and Ferguson to decide who the No. 1 contender for the lightweight title is makes sense. Why? Because UFC president Dana White told the Los Angeles Times last week that Conor McGregor won’t fight again until his girlfriend — who just revealed that she is pregnant — gives birth in mid-2017. So, the UFC will probably try to make Nurmagomedov vs. Ferguson happen while McGregor awaits the arrival of his first-born child.
[Featured Image by Julio Cortez/AP Images]