Even in defeat, Conor McGregor’s star appeal continues to grow.
The 29-year-old stormed to the top of mixed martial arts when he won the UFC featherweight and UFC lightweight world titles in recent years.
McGregor’s skill-set and global popularity attracted Mayweather’s attention and the duo boxed at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday.
Mayweather extended his professional record to 50 fights unbeaten as he forced a referee stoppage in the tenth round and inflicted a loss in what was McGregor’s debut.
Regardless of defeat, there are still a huge number of potential opponents for McGregor – in UFC and in boxing.
“I’m certainly open to hearing what [UFC owners] WME-IMG wants and what Showtime wants, and if they want me to come over to boxing then we can talk,” McGregor told reporters at the post-fight press conference.
“I have many options in mixed martial arts,” he said. “I could always continue in the boxing game.”
With that in mind, we have put together a list of nine potential opponents for McGregor. Most are from the world of mixed martial arts, but there a couple are from the sport of boxing. Many of them could be huge fights.
Here they are.
The Nate Diaz trilogy bout with UFC.
- Rey Del Rio / Getty Images
A conclusive third fight with UFC rival Nate Diaz is arguably the next money fight for Conor McGregor.
McGregor’s stock was sky high heading into his first showdown with Diaz in March, 2016. He was enjoying a 15-fight win streak, he had just knocked out long-reigning featherweight champion José Aldo, and was developing an indestructible aura.
His welterweight debut against Diaz changed that slightly as McGregor was submitted when Diaz, who has a black belt in jiu-jitsu, made the Irishman tap-out with an expert rear naked choke (see below).
Five months later, McGregor avenged the defeat by knocking Diaz down multiple times en route to a majority decision victory.
With the rivalry now at 1-1, McGregor clearly wants a third bout. “I have a trilogy bout with Nate Diaz that’s sitting there,” McGregor told reporters after the Mayweather loss.
A UFC rematch against Max Holloway.
Since Conor McGregor beat Max Holloway by decision in 2013, the 25-year-old Hawaiian has gone on an impressive ten-fight winning run.
Holloway even stopped José Aldo with a flurry of punches, storming to the top of McGregor’s former division, to win the UFC featherweight title in June.
If McGregor were to return to featherweight, or if Holloway moved up to lightweight, then this is a rematch that could happen in the near future.
A boxing grudge match against former sparring partner Paul Malignaggi.
- Al Bello / Getty Images
If McGregor decided to return to the boxing ring then a fight against his former sparring partner Paul Malignaggi could materialise.
Team McGregor hired Malignaggi as a training partner to help prepare McGregor for the Floyd Mayweather bout.
Malignaggi quit the camp after a matter of days as he felt exploited.
Malignaggi broke a golden rule in boxing by revealing McGregor‘s weakness and even confronted the Irishman during the Grand Arrivals in Las Vegas earlier this week. There is certainly a lot of bad blood here and the two could settle their differences in the ring.
You can watch some of McGregor and Malignaggi’s sparring footage below.
A UFC welterweight title challenge against Tyron Woodley.
UFC welterweight world champion Tyron Woodley is certainly on Team McGregor’s radar.
McGregor, a lightweight and former featherweight title holder, rewrote UFC history books when he became the first same-time double champion in history.
If he de-throned Woodley then he would immortalise his name in the game further still as the company’s first ever three-weight world champion.
On the prospect of fighting Woodley, McGregor’s head coach John Kavanagh told MMAFighting.com last year: “I don’t see why not.”
A UFC lightweight title defence against Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Khabib Nurmagomedov, an expert wrestler and judoka, is the number one challenger at lightweight and is arguably next in line for a shot at McGregor’s belt.
Nurmagomedov put his name forward for a McGregor fight before the Irishman even have time to finish his post-Mayweather whiskey on Saturday as he challenged McGregor on social media.
The unbeaten Russian has extraordinary grappling skills and would present a unique challenge to McGregor, but Kavanagh says McGregor is so confident of winning he would take on Nurmagomedov away from home.
“He seems very, very motivated to go to Russia in December,” Kavanagh told MMAFighting.com earlier this year.
The Tony Ferguson versus Kevin Lee UFC lightweight fight winner.
- Reuters and Getty
After Nurmagomedov, comes the number two challenger at lightweight.
This will be decided at UFC 216 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas as Tony Ferguson and Kevin Lee come to blows in October.
Though the winner will likely call-out (challenge) McGregor in the Octagon after their fight, neither Ferguson or Lee would be next.
Even UFC president Dana White has been non-committal about a Ferguson/Lee fight for McGregor.
“I don’t know, we’ll see,” White said this weekend.
A boxing fight against former world champion boxer Manny Pacquiao.
- Al Bello / Getty Images
Sounds ridiculous, right? It should… though the thought of McGregor fighting Mayweather sounded ridiculous at first.
But Pacquiao? Where did that come from, I hear you ask.
Well, it came straight out of the mouth of Pacquiao’s promoter Bob Arum, of Top Rank.
Earlier this year, Arum said that if“McGregor is looking for an [alternative] opponent” to Mayweather, then “Manny Pacquiao is there.”
A UFC fight against Georges St-Pierre.
- Stephen R. Sylvanie/Reuters
Former three-time UFC welterweight world champion Georges St-Pierre challenges middleweight king Michael Bisping at UFC 217 at Madison Square Garden in November.
Win or lose, GSP is a big enough name to continue commanding big-money fights and his team has one eye on a St-Pierre v McGregor showdown down the line.
St-Pierre’s coach Firas Zahabi said in May that a match-up between GSP and McGregor would “be the greatest fight in UFC history.”
Unfortunately for GSP and Zahabi, UFC president Dana White could have booked a McGregor fight as St-Pierre’s comeback bout but White said: “It was never an option.” Whether that changes remains to be seen.
A UFC rematch against José Aldo.
Conor McGregor knocked José Aldo out in 13 seconds in 2015… why, oh why, would anybody want to see that again?
Well, there was one person who took delight in McGregor’s recent loss to Mayweather.
Guess who that was?
— Jose Aldo Junior (@josealdojunior) August 27, 2017
Aldo would be an unlikely opponent for McGregor.
Even though the Brazilian was unbeaten for ten years before he met McGregor, Aldo recently lost to Max Holloway in June, pushing him to the back of the line of would-be challengers.