Surprise surprise: The king is back, so what next for Conor McGregor?
If return bouts with Nate Diaz or Jose Aldo don't interest him, the Irishman - who remains the UFC's featherweight champion - could always join the WWE
Return to featherweight
It is easy to forget after two fights at welterweight that Conor McGregor is still the UFC’s featherweight champion.
He needs to defend that belt or risk losing it. There’s one problem, though: the current top contender is Jose Aldo, who McGregor took the title off with a 13-second knockout at UFC 194.
The Irishman bristled at the suggestion of taking on Aldo again in his post-fight press conference at the weekend.
He doesn’t feel the Brazilian deserves a return fight, never mind the undisputed title if he is forced to relinquish it.
McGregor has only been beaten once at featherweight in his career, and even that was in this third professional fight eight years ago.
Defending the belt is perhaps his safest and most likely move.
It is not his most lucrative, though.
McGregor beat Aldo soundly when they first met, so there will be less fan interest in a rematch than in seeing the champion face a new opponent.
Fight for the lightweight title
Having dominated the featherweight division, McGregor is at least considering a permanent step up to 155lbs.
He wants to fight Diaz at lightweight in their next meeting, and that is perhaps his most natural weight at this point.
While McGregor has never fought at lightweight in the UFC before and is unranked in that division, he has earned the right to demand pretty much any fight he wants at this point.
If he asks for a title bout against Eddie Alvarez, he will get it.
Should he win, McGregor would be just the third fighter in history to have won a UFC title in more than one weight class.
Do that, and - providing he isn’t stripped of the featherweight title - he would become the first fighter in history to hold belts in two divisions simultaneously.
Rubber match with Diaz
McGregor’s rivalry with Diaz is by far the most compelling in the sport, and a third fight between the pair would undoubtedly draw huge interest again.
They gave the UFC what looks to be its most successful night to date with a thrilling bout that lived up to its sky-high expectations.
A rubber match looks a certainty, considering both fighters have said they want to face each other again.
The question is not whether it will happen, but when.
Allowing the rivalry to simmer makes sense. McGregor and Diaz have met twice in the past five months, after all.
Diaz’s stock is higher now than it has ever been, though, and should the UFC delay the rematch, a defeat for the American in the meantime could be disastrous.
His safest move would be to push for a return fight as soon as possible.
Take on the WWE
Undoubtedly the most interesting snippet from McGregor’s post-fight interviews was the suggestion that he could leave the UFC - and the sport of MMA - altogether.
He has hinted at a boxing match against Floyd Mayweather in the past, but his recent feud with Brock Lesnar suggests he may be considering a move to professional wrestling.
McGregor wouldn’t be the first UFC-WWE crossover.
Lesnar, Ken Shamrock and most recently CM Punk have worked for both, while Vince McMahon has always been keen to legitimise his company by bringing in real fighters.
The Irishman is, of course, a fierce competitor, and leaving the Octagon for so-called ‘sports entertainment’ would still be a truly surprising move.
But a huge part of his persona revolves around stardom and making money, and the WWE is by far the easiest way for him to do so.