It may likely be a while before Conor McGregor gets his rematch against reigning UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov. However, it would seem that the former two-division champion could be returning to the octagon in the near future, provided Anthony Pettis wins his upcoming welterweight fight at UFC 241 against Nate Diaz.
Speaking to MMA Junkie on Tuesday, Pettis’ manager, Abraham Kawa, explained that Pettis deserves to face McGregor if he ends up beating Diaz in the UFC 241 co-main event on August 17, as such a matchup could turn out to be more interesting than a return engagement for McGregor and Nurmagomedov after their controversial bout last October at UFC 229. That marked the Irishman’s last time in the UFC octagon, as he lost to the still-undefeated Khabib via fourth-round submission before a post-fight brawl broke out between both fighters’ camps.
“Even Conor fighting Khabib, I don’t think that’s the fight,” Kawa said. “I actually don’t want to see that fight right now. Maybe after a while, yes. But right now I think Conor vs. Anthony is the fight. I’m looking at it as (if) Anthony beats Nate, and I think Conor is next on the horizon.”
While Conor McGregor has yet to be booked for his UFC return after coming out of what appeared to be a very brief retirement, per The Independent, Khabib Nurmagomedov’s next scheduled fight will take place on September 7 at UFC 242, where he will be facing interim lightweight champion Dustin Poirier in a unification bout.
As pointed out by MMA Junkie, erstwhile lightweight Pettis made an impressive debut in the welterweight division in March, when he knocked out Stephen Thompson and dealt him his first career defeat via stoppage at UFC Fight Night 148. And as Kawa sees it, that knockout win appears to have drawn Diaz — who hasn’t fought in the UFC since his loss to McGregor at UFC 202 in August 2016 — out of a nearly three-year layoff from competition.
Even with Kawa expecting an impressive showing from Diaz, he told MMA Junkie that he’s confident his client will prove to be the better man by defeating the Stockton, California, native and “[doing] what he’s supposed to do.”
“I think next in line should be Conor. I don’t think there should be anyone else,” Kawa concluded.
A former UFC lightweight champion, Pettis will be entering his fight against Diaz with a professional MMA record of 22 wins and eight losses, including 11 wins by knockout and seven wins by submission, according to his Sherdog fighter page. Diaz, meanwhile, sports a 19-11 win-loss record, including five knockouts and 11 submission victories.