UFC president Dana White has said for weeks that McGregor has committed to a return to the Octagon by the end of the year regardless of what happens in the showdown with Mayweather.
Now it appears McGregor is not only targeting a fight in the UFC later this year, but the outspoken lightweight champion has actually requested to compete on his opponent’s home soil.
“You know what Conor told me? He said, ‘I want Khabib in Russia,’” White said in an interview with MMAJunkie. “Isn’t he [expletive] awesome? He’s like, ‘I want Khabib, in Russia.’ He’s awesome. Conor McGregor is a [expletive] unicorn.
“There’s nothing like him. He’s working on boxing Floyd Mayweather and then he’s talking about fighting Khabib in Russia right after.”
Of course a lot has to happen before McGregor could even potentially face the undefeated Russian later this year.
Khabib Nurmagomedov was originally scheduled to return to action in March for a fight against Tony Ferguson, but was forced off the card at the last minute due to a disastrous weight cut that put him into the hospital. Since that time, Nurmagomedov has returned home to Russia to recover while stating that he hopes to return in the late summer or early fall.
According to White, he still plans on pitting Nurmagomedov against fellow lightweight terror Tony Ferguson later this year with the winner than all but assuredly being the person who will greet McGregor when he returns to defend his title.
“Those guys [have] got to fight,” White said. “It would have seemed a lot worse if those two guys fought [at UFC 209], and they were all sitting around waiting. It didn’t happen.
“That fight still needs to happen. So this thing could time out perfectly.”
Assuming the UFC books Ferguson vs. Nurmagomedov for later this year and the fight actually happens after three separate attempts in the past have all failed to come to fruition, then the winner could potentially face McGregor in December.
McGregor’s return to the Octagon — if it happens — would likely take place at the year end card in December, which is traditionally one of the biggest UFC events every year.