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Khabib/McGregor II just got more likely

UFC 229: Khabib v McGregor Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

As the UFC’s first ever simultaneous two-weight world champion, Conor McGregor has every right to look for the next big challenge, even though his career has somewhat derailed over the past 18 months. In the same way he did after his loss to Nate Diaz three years ago, it shouldn’t surprise anyone if he goes back for revenge over the 27-0 Khabib Nurmagomedov, after losing against the ruthless Russian at UFC 229.

Clearly, there is an appreciation of the fact that McGregor lost to the best wrestler in the world at UFC 229. It would have been a tough ask of McGregor at any point in his career, and that is the exact reason he took the fight, and why he still has some marketability. Away from the octagon though, McGregor also has to defeat another great adversary – himself.

The latest odds show that a Khabib rematch is most likely to be McGregor’s next port of call.

Image vital for McGregor in near future

Whether on the up or suffering a perceived fall from grace, every athlete – without exception – needs to have a positive image. Conor McGregor’s own has taken a pounding in 2018, especially with the Irishman most notably drawing the ire of UFC president Dana White back in April, after vandalizing Khabib’s transport in an arena car park.

McGregor will need to offer more than just brash promos and publicity stunts ahead of any rematch with Khabib. The shelf-life of his marketability is shortening drastically, and this rematch is as much for his own personal security as it is for his pride as a fighter. In order to avoid being forgotten, McGregor needs to expand his personal brand into other areas while the proverbial iron is hot.

These days, just about anything is fair game for endorsements, and as UFC fans we’ve seen everything, from Youtube channels dedicated to specific fighters to licensed apps, and even online slot machines:

Anyone with a positive opinion about Unibet casino – and its sportsbook odds for UFC matches – will agree with the current belief that Khabib would be the favorite in any possible rematch. Thus, if McGregor wants the best possible comeback opponent after losing to Khabib, image will be a vital part of his own road to redemption.

Other candidates

From a narrative standpoint, the potential completion of a trilogy against Nate Diaz is the next-likeliest route. It is perfect for all parties at first glance, but it raises an issue for McGregor, who has lost three of his last five fights across all disciplines of combat sport.

The third, and arguably most intriguing, potential matchup for ‘The Notorious’ one is California native Tony Ferguson. He represents too big a risk for McGregor at this time, and the Diaz fight can wait until there are no other options. Yet, whilst Conor hasn’t necessarily earned a match of this calibre, it is not in his nature to settle for anything less.

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