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Now that the dust has settled and the UFC 205 madness has subsided, there’s a lingering question about two-division Ultimate Fighting Championship titleholder Conor McGregor’s next move, and it has the combat sports world curious. The problem: He’s taking a “hiatus” until May for the birth of his child. All that does is create traffic jams in not one, not two but possibly three divisions.
For the next six months, every top champion and top contender is going to wait to see if he can cash in on the Irish lottery. Jose Aldo wants revenge; Khabib Nurmagomedov wants his long-awaited title shot; and Tyron Woodley wants a payday. Are all three of them going to sit and wait until McGregor makes a decision? They could, but that’s an awful idea.
What should they do?
Aldo should fight the Anthony Pettis-Max Holloway and hope McGregor defends his title next spring.
Look, Aldo is going to have to get it out of his head that McGregor is going to come down and fight him to unify the titles. He’s at the bottom of the list of things for McGregor to do. He’s already lost to McGregor once and he needs to decide whether or not he wants to be the featherweight champion or try his luck as a lightweight. Either way, he needs to remain busy. The Pettis-Holloway winner would be a very intriguing fight for Aldo; and if “Mystic Mac” decides to grant someone else a payday, Aldo should be prepared to have the interim tag taken off of his featherweight title. It isn’t entirely satisfying, but it is what’s best for business.
Woodley should have a rematch with Stephen Thompson.
In what was the best fight at UFC 205 (online betting), Woodley escaped as the champion with a majority draw against Thompson. To move along and fight McGregor would be a disservice to the welterweight title he still holds because he didn’t lose to “Wonderboy.” With that said, he didn’t win, either. Thompson deserves a rematch and should be granted one immediately. Woodley could use this to cement the fact that he’s the best welterweight in the world and remove any doubt his detractors have about him; and considering McGregor has already tried his hand at welterweight, there’s a possibility that he’s smart enough to kick back and wait for the perfect fight. Woodley isn’t that guy.
Nurmagomedov should fight Tony Ferguson.
Yes, “The Eagle” deserves the next fight with McGregor. However, his fits of inactivity are troublesome. McGregor has already coined Nurmagomedov as the “pullout merchant,” and there is some validity to those statements. While he could wait and hope McGregor chooses to defend his recently won lightweight title, it could serve Nurmagomedov well to face a surging Ferguson just to stay busy. Granted, he could lose and miss out on the title shot, but he’s going to have to fight “El Cucuy” sooner or later anyway. Why not handle the business now and get paid rather than wait and hope McGregor considers him to be his best option?
The bottom line is this: Waiting for McGregor’s decision only empowers him. As much as everyone wants a piece of the two-division champion, their time is best invested in booking another fight rather than waiting for him to select them for the MMA prom. Why wait, get overlooked and end up dateless rather than stay busy and make some money? If you’re afraid to lose, you should stop fighting.
Andreas Hale is the editorial content director of 2DopeBoyz.com, co-host of the boxing, MMA and pro wrestling podcast “The Corner” and a regular columnist for Sherdog.com. You can follow on Twitter for his random yet educated thoughts on combat sports, music, film and popular culture.