Favorite Emerges to Face Conor McGregor in Potential Return
Adam Hunger – USA TODAY Sports
Irish UFC superstar Conor McGregor’s potential return to action has been the subject of much conjecture since he stepped into the boxing ring to challenge Floyd Mayweather last summer.
Leading UK odds comparison site Oddschecker.com has revealed who British bookies believe “The Notorious” will face next.
Initially, UFC interim lightweight champion Tony Ferguson was the betting favorite, but the appearance of a news story from Russia suggesting Ferguson will face undefeated Russian battering ram Khabib Nurmagomedov this spring has seen the market move already.
Ferguson defeated fellow contender Kevin Lee at UFC 216 last October to capture the UFC interim lightweight title and cement his position as the No. 1 contender to face undisputed champ McGregor next.
Ferguson was initially set as the +137.5 (11-8) favorite to face McGregor, but he’s since drifted to +162.5 (13-2), with Nurmagomedov now installed as the new betting favorite, at +150 (6-4).
Many believe Nurmagomedov offers the toughest test of McGregor’s championship credentials. The 25-0 phenom from Dagestan looked all set to take on Ferguson for the interim belt at UFC 209 last March only to then fall ill the night before the weigh-ins, forcing the bout to be scrapped.
Nurmagomedov came back and looked great on the scale before a terrifyingly performance in which he battered Brazilian striker Edson Barboza over three one-sided rounds at UFC 219.
UFC president Dana White has already suggested that if McGregor isn’t available to fight again until the autumn, he may be stripped of his lightweight title.
And that, coupled with the rumors suggesting Ferguson and Nurmagomedov could meet in a possible title bout in April, has led to the possible scenario of McGregor being stripped, then coming back to face the winner of the Ferguson-Nurmagomedov fight in a bid to reclaim his title later this year.
Other names on the list include Nate Diaz, who has frequently been linked with a trilogy bout with McGregor after the pair swapped wins in two of the biggest fights of 2016. He’s a +550 (11-2) shot, while reigning UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway is +650 (13-2).
Canadian star Georges St-Pierre is also a contender, but he’s considered a long shot, priced at +2000.
McGregor has also been linked with a return to boxing, and three former world champions have been priced as the potential next opponent for McGregor.
A rematch with Floyd Mayweather Jr is a +3300 shot, and you can get a McGregor return against Filipino folk hero Manny Pacquiao for the same odds.
Also priced is Paulie Malignaggi, who infamously sparred with — and was knocked down by — McGregor ahead of the Dubliner’s bout with Mayweather last year. He’s the rank outsider at +4000.
[Photo credit: Adam Hunger-USA Today Sports]