With Conor McGregor fever once again set to go into overdrive, the Irishman’s opponent for his return to the UFC has still yet to be determined
With a two horse race between Nate Diaz and UFC interim lightweight champion Tony Ferguson still yet to be concluded, everything is merely but a matter of opinion concerning who will land their own ‘red panty night’.
Having established himself as the number 1 contender at 155-pounds, Tony Ferguson has now added a BJJ black belt under Eddie Bravo to his impressive resume. Bravo, the founder of the innovative 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu brand, recently spoke to the Talking Brawls podcast about who he feels should be his student’s next bout. Unsurprisingly, Conor McGregor was the name at the tip of his tongue:
“It has to be Conor [McGregor]. It has to be. I mean, it’s either Conor or vacate. You need to defend or vacate, that’s what it’s all about. […] Think about where [Tony Ferguson]’s at right now. He’s got the belt. It’s the interim belt but he’s got the belt. It doesn’t look like Conor wants any part of Tony. It doesn’t sound like he’s interested in him at all. He’s never been interested in Tony because he knows Tony’s mind. He knows that Tony can’t be broken mentally. Who better to coach Tony than himself? That’s the way I look at it. It seems like he doesn’t because he’s not calling him out. He’s not responding. So, I can only assume that that means he’s not that interested.”
According to Bravo, the only fight to be made in the division is the unification bout between McGregor and Ferguson:
“That’s the biggest fight right now: Tony [versus] Conor. Tony’s already proven himself. He’s one of the top guys in the world. He’s already proven himself. What’s a bigger fight than that? Khabib [Nurmagomedov] and Conor that’s big too. I think Tony’s bigger than Khabib. He’s got the belt, that’s bigger. Who else? Nate Diaz. That’s a great fight, that’s a trilogy. That could happen. That’s huge too, but I don’t know if it’s bigger than Tony [versus] Conor. No, no [I haven’t heard anything from the UFC]. Not at all. Nothing. [Ferguson’s] heard nothing. He’s already training, back working on his stand-up. He knows it ain’t over yet. Whoever it is that’s going to step up next, whether is Khabib or Conor, Man, it’s going to be one hell of a fight.”
Ferguson, having claimed that McGregor was ‘ducking him’ on the basis of never bringing up his name also trashed the Irishman and insisted that the lightweight division was his:
“It’s been my division before McNuggets even stepped into this bitch,” Ferguson said. I’m pissed. That bitch needs to fight me or he needs to fight the guy that’s holding the belt.”
“El Cucuy” also took aim at the rest of the division and, in particular, their choice of attire:
“I’m tired of it. All these other little dudes, they’re a bunch of pansies.
“They need to stop dressing up in suits and worrying about the labels and money and stuff like that and realize what real fighting’s about – that’s pride and doing your best and not worrying about the other bullshit,” he added.
There are not many fans or pundits who would argue against Ferguson deserving a shot at the UFC lightweight title McGregor currently holds. Nate Diaz, the second candidate for the title shot, is someone who would happily insist that he should get the nod over the 33-year-old, however.
Diaz has kept a fairly low profile and remained fairly quiet on a trilogy bout. In the immediate aftermath of his loss to McGregor last year, Diaz played down the chance of a trilogy fight instead claiming that he had beaten the Irishman twice, effectively negating the need for a third fight:
“I don’t know. Do you remember last time they rushed to his house the next morning and said he was all obsessed or whatever?” Diaz asked Chael Sonnen.
“I was pretty crazy about it for a couple of days, but it’s whatever to me, you know? I won that fight and I’m not jumping for joy already for round three. I think I beat him twice, so it’s 2-0 as far as I’m concerned.
“It might get made down the road, I don’t know. I believe they know too, because he’s got a smart coach on his hands. Him and his coach know what happened in the fight and they aren’t stupid, so I think they are going to do what they can to return to his division and get onto a new stage.”
While Diaz allegedly is on board now, his demands for a $20 million dollar purse seem to have priced him out of a third fight. With McGregor recently discussing a fight with Diaz would be good for his ‘legacy’, the Stockton man took to Twitter to deliver a simple but intriguing response:
— Nathan Diaz (@NateDiaz209) October 20, 2017