Belts, boxing or big bucks: What next for Conor McGregor?
His boxing debut ended in defeat, but there are now plenty of options open to the 'Notorious' UFC champion.
Defend the belt
McGregor made the switch to boxing not only for the money, but also because he has achieved pretty much everything he can in mixed martial arts.
With one exception, though: he’s never defended a belt.
That’s shocking for a two-division world champion, and he really needs to put his lightweight title on the line if he wants to be considered an MMA great.
The problem is, the challengers at the top of the division lack the mainstream profile to give McGregor a major payday, though all possess the skills to take his strap away from him.
Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson are particularly scary opponents who the champion has done well to avoid up until this point.
McGregor prides himself on the fact that he will fight anyone, and will need to face one or both of those contenders if he is not to be labelled a ducker when his career is over.
Face Diaz again
Forget about another fight with Mayweather. There’s only one McGregor rematch that would be worth watching.
That’s a rubber match with Diaz – the only man to have beaten him in the UFC to date.
The American tapped him out at UFC 196 in March 2016, and it remains a blemish on the Notorious’ career despite gaining revenge with a points victory five months later at UFC 202.
Both fighters promised then that there would be a decider, and Diaz has bluntly refused any other fight that Dana White has put in front of him ever since.
The 32-year-old only wants to face fighters with a higher profile than himself, and McGregor is one of the few men who fit that bill.
Taking on Diaz for a third time is the money fight in the UFC for the Irishman and, if there’s anything we’ve learned from McGregor’s career so far, it’s that money talks.
McGregor seemed to have plenty of fun in the boxing ring, even though he did spend the majority of his time in there being repeatedly punched in the face.
That experience – and, of course, the near-£100m that will soon be in his bank account – could convince him to only fight with his hands from now on.
And, crucially, his next money-making venture in the ring wouldn’t require him to face one of the best boxers all time.
The 29-year-old’s infamous sparring session with Paulie Malignaggi has already created enough buzz for a potential bout, with McGregor’s knockdown – or push, if you believe the American – leading many to believe he could beat the 36-year-old former world champion.
Malignaggi is already pushing for the fight and a final big payday of his career, and McGregor, sensing a first professional boxing win, might just give it to him.
Wrestle in the WWE
How can a fighter make money without actually being beaten up? Professional wrestling.
McGregor has flirted with the idea of joining the WWE in the past, and he’s got the profile and the microphone skills to be a massive star in the company if he chose to.
He wouldn’t be the first combat athlete to do so, either.
Former UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar has spent years in the WWE, while Mayweather and Ronda Rousey have each made cameo appearances at Wrestlemania.
McGregor loves breaking new ground, though, and the fact that others have already trodden that path would likely put him off.
Head to Hollywood
From this bizarre appearance in an American horse racing advert to rumours of a cameo in Game of Thrones, McGregor’s been hinting at a move into acting for a while.
It makes sense. He’s got the look, the charisma, and a horde of fans who’d surely watch anything he appears in.
It’s easy to envision him popping up in a blockbuster like Neymar in XXX: Return of Xander Cage, or even starring in an action movie of his own like Vinnie Jones or Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson.
If his performance in Instagram ads like this are anything to go by, however, his delivery could use some work.