We’re a couple of weeks out from UFC 229, and while Dana White hasn’t outright said an immediate rematch between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor’s not happening. But, as it stands right now, it certainly looks like the UFC’s moving on.
Since the October 6th scrap was such a massive bout, and because of the ugly, post-fight brawl that went down after Khabib’s win, many observers and fans speculated the UFC would run it back (the card is believed to have sold just under 2.4 million pay-per-view buys).
But, as calmer heads prevailed, and more folks sat back, and really reflected on the situation, calls for a rematch seemed to drop off. After all, it wasn’t a very competitive fight, and Tony Ferguson’s out there, armed with an 11 fight streak and a resume that includes winning the interim lightweight title.
Well, last week, ESPN posted footage of White answering who he would like Khabib to fight next, if, he was solely approaching it from a fan’s perspective. The UFC President said this:
“As a fight fan, you’ve got to go with Tony. Tony had the belt, tweaked his knee, got stripped, this fight happens — Tony never lost the [interim] belt in a fight. Neither did Conor, but Conor got the opportunity to actually fight [Nurmagomedov]. I think Tony deserves the next shot.”
And now, ESPN’s run a follow up story, which includes the quote above, but also this comment from White:
“I haven’t even thought about a [McGregor] rematch,” White said. “Obviously, I know Conor wants a rematch. We need to do what’s right and what’s fair. We’ll see how it plays out. We literally haven’t thought about it yet.
Does that sound like McGregor’s really being considered for an immediate rematch? Not really right? (Yes, there’s also a chance that the promotion really hasn’t had internal discussions yet about it, as White claims). If the promotion was thinking about booking Khabib – McGregor 2 right away, you would think White would be making some talking points here, about how, say, McGregor was off for two years, it’s the fight fans want to see, etc, etc.
Instead, it’s interesting to see White make comments about doing what’s “right” and “fair”, and that almost certainly is a nod to Ferguson. Although, avid fight fans and or UFC critics would likely point out that title shots aren’t always handed out under meritocratic conditions. See Brock Lesnar.