When Conor McGregor makes his return at UFC 246, he will be competing at welterweight and that may be the division where he attempts to chase his third world championship.
After winning gold at both featherweight and lightweight, the Irish superstar decided to compete at 170 pounds for his upcoming fight against Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone. The move was mostly predicated around McGregor’s desire to keep a busy schedule in 2020 and fighting at welterweight means he won’t have to endure a tougher weight cut to get down to the lightweight limit multiple times this year.
Long term, the former two-division UFC champion would still like to avenge his past loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov but there are plenty of tempting fights for him at welterweight as well.
One name in particular that has been mentioned time and time again is Jorge Masvidal, who went 3-0 in 2019, capped off by his win over Nate Diaz that made him the first (and perhaps only) “baddest motherf*cker alive” complete with a “BMF” championship belt.
As much as that fight might interest the fans, McGregor says he’s not moving to welterweight solely for the sake of challenging Masvidal, especially if there’s an opportunity to add a third world title to his resume.
“I’d face Jorge. I’m not going to 170 just for Jorge,” McGregor told the Mac Life ahead of his return on Jan. 18. “He hasn’t really got anything. I wasn’t really that happy with how that bad motherf*cker thing ended. I think it’s unfinished. In my opinion, that bout is unfinished. It was only getting into a good bout, I believe. We were robbed of rounds 4 and 5 in that bout.
“But I like that welterweight belt. I liked that welterweight title fight that was on the weekend, I liked the look of that. I liked the look of Kamaru Usman. I liked the look of Colby [Covington]. I’m open to it all at 170.”
Now for all the bluster and confidence that McGregor is showing about potentially competing in the deep end of the welterweight division, he would almost certainly be a decided underdog against reigning champion Kamaru Usman.
Usman has gone undefeated in the UFC with 11 straight wins, including a lopsided victory over former champion Tyron Woodley as well as his fifth round TKO to finish Colby Covington at UFC 245.
He also sent McGregor a warning Saturday morning.
My man @TheNotoriousMMA please just go in there and take your L from cowboy. Don’t even dream of this WW strap because that dream can turn into an Nightmare fast.
— KAMARU USMAN (@USMAN84kg) January 4, 2020
That doesn’t seem to intimidate McGregor, who seems confident that he’s ready to face the best that the welterweight division could throw at him.
“A lot of people forget about my skill base,” McGregor said. “I’m going to go in there and remind them. I don’t feel these people are on my level when I am committed. I have not been committed for a while. Up until about a year ago, I really started committing myself. I look forward to showcasing my skills to the people.”
McGregor isn’t exactly ruling out an eventual showdown with Masvidal but that fight is not his top priority as he makes his return in 2020.
“Gold and I’d say silver cause that bad motherf*cker belt is a silver one, it’s not the best looking belt. I don’t really care about that, I want the gold,” McGregor said. “I’m after the gold. 155 and 170. They’re the belts I am chasing now.”