Instead of money in the boxing ring, it’s legitimacy he’s after in the UFC Octagon, where he has yet to defend the lightweight title he won last November against Eddie Alvarez.
“I’ve already gone from the highest of the high in terms of a money fight,” he said (via MMA Fighting), alluding to his August boxing loss to Floyd Mayweather for which the UFC star took home an estimated $30 million. “Now the question I always get is about defending the [UFC] belt and legitimizing the sport and the rankings.”
Ranked the No. 2 pound-for-pound fighter in the UFC behind flyweight Demetrious Johnson, McGregor is the only lightweight to make the top 15. But that hasn’t stopped many fans of mixed martial arts from alleging the Irishman might be purposefully avoiding defending his belt due to fear of No. 1 contender Khabib Nurmagomedov, an undefeated fighter from Russia.
Nurmagomedov has been angling for a fight with McGregor for a year, but injury and other circumstances have kept him out of the Octagon.
Meanwhile, No. 2 contender Tony Ferguson is set to face Kevin Lee for the interim lightweight title at UFC 216 next Saturday, followed, perhaps, by a chance to meet McGregor before Nurmagomedov gets his shot.
“I’m very interested in seeing this fight [next] weekend and to see how the lightweight title picture pans out and to go in and correct that whole situation,” McGregor said Friday. “That’s where my thoughts are.”
Of course, he hasn’t quite ruled out prizefighting altogether. McGregor expressed interest in again fighting Nate Diaz, who he has met twice before, winning once. While no belt would be up for grabs, that matchup would probably earn him the most possible money in the Octagon.
“It will happen,” he said of the fight, before insinuating that he realizes the payout won’t approach anywhere near what he got for fighting Mayweather, who’s now retired.
“The more I spend time away from it,” McGregor said, “I think I’ve already done all of the money fights.”