Fresh off one of the richest events in combat sports history, UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor is the No. 1 target of virtually every boxer and mixed martial artist in the world.
And he certainly knows it.
During a public appearance Friday in Glasgow, Scotland — McGregor’s first since last month’s lucrative boxing match against Floyd Mayweather — the Irish star laid out a long range of options for his next opponent, including the winner of next week’s interim title fight between Tony Ferguson and Kevin Lee.
“There’s an interim [UFC] belt on the line right now, that’s an option,” said McGregor, via MMAFighting.com. “Of course, the Nate Diaz trilogy fight is there.
Nevada Gaming Control officials estimate that $65 million was wagered on Mayweather-McGregor, making it the most heavily bet boxing match in the state’s history and leading to a record win for sportsbooks in August.
“Maybe one of these boxing guys. Maybe [retired former boxing champion, Paulie] Malignaggi would come over and do an MMA bout. Maybe I could entice Floyd back. We could either do a rematch in boxing or, like he said originally, we’ll do an MMA fight next. They are the options that are on the table for me right now.”
McGregor (21-3) lost to Mayweather via 10th-round TKO on Aug. 26 in Las Vegas, in what marked his professional boxing debut. His next fight is expected to take place back in the familiar setting of the UFC, although the 29-year-old has not publicly committed to that as of yet.
The two obvious choices in MMA would be a lightweight title defense against next weekend’s interim champion or a third fight with Diaz (19-11). Diaz submitted McGregor in March 2016, before dropping a majority decision in a rematch five months later. Diaz has not fought since their second fight.
“I’m happy they’re fighting,” said McGregor, on Ferguson and Lee. “This is what I wanted, because they’re all bums at the end of the day. Make no mistake about that. I’m just happy they’re fighting. I want to see them compete.
“Too many of them pull out right at the wire, and we’re still not at this fight yet. So, I’m just going to pray that this one goes ahead. Of course, Nate is still there waiting, but he’ll be left waiting until we figure something out.”
In addition to those two options, McGregor mentioned undefeated lightweights Khabib Nurmagomedov (24-0) and Justin Gaethje (18-0), as well as former welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre (25-2).
A superfight between McGregor and St-Pierre has drawn speculation ever since the latter attended McGregor’s first fight against Diaz at UFC 196. McGregor expressed interest in that matchup but doesn’t believe St-Pierre will win an upcoming middleweight title fight against Michael Bisping in November.
“It’s another money fight, even though he’s been retired,” McGregor said. “I don’t know. I think he’s going to get his ass whupped by Bisping. To be honest, I think it’s a mistake for him to step in at that weight after so long out.”
Many observers praised McGregor’s effort in the boxing ring, considering he was facing an all-time great in Mayweather (50-0, 27 KOs). Mayweather, 40, has repeatedly promised he will not fight again.
Malignaggi (36-8, 7 KOs) made headlines in recent months related to McGregor. He quit his role as McGregor’s sparring partner for the Mayweather bout after two sessions and accused McGregor of leaking pictures that inaccurately represented what happened. McGregor told ESPN that Malignaggi did not perform well and was “looking for a way out.” That drama could serve as the storyline for a potential fight.
McGregor has won UFC titles at 145 and 155 pounds. His boxing match against Mayweather produced the second-largest gate in combat sports history, behind Mayweather’s 2015 bout with Manny Pacquiao.