It seems Conor McGregor’s return to the UFC isn’t as much of a foregone conclusion as many anticipated. The Irish superstar hasn’t stepped into the Octagon since winning the lightweight championship at UFC 205 last November, with many expecting the titleholder to make his highly anticipated return at some point in early 2018. Company president Dana White now admits he’s not sure if McGregor will ever fight again, per MMA Fighting.
This comes after the UFC, McGregor and his team regularly insisted over the past year that he would eventually return to defend his lightweight championship.
“We need to figure that out,” White said. “Right now, with him it’s not about defend or vacate. We’re working on a new deal with him right now.”
McGregor hasn’t been completely absent from the fight game since last November, famously stepping into the ring with Floyd Mayweather Jr. for a high-profile attempt at ending the boxing legend’s unbeaten record inside the squared circle. He fought admirably but was ultimately defeated in the 10th round on a blockbuster night.
There have been two major roadblocks seemingly preventing McGregor’s return to the UFC: an opponent, and money.
At time of publication, the most deserving candidate is interim champion Tony Ferguson. McGregor would likely be required to unify the titles or risk being stripped of his second UFC championship since late 2016. There has been word, however, that a trilogy bout with Nate Diaz is also a possibility, with Diaz serving as the most profitable opponent.
Regardless of whom he fights, McGregor has stated that he is no longer interested in fighting for a traditional fight purse, but would rather prefer to have a stake in the promotion he’s participating in — much like he did with the debut of McGregor Sports and Entertainment against Mayweather this August.
Offering McGregor a promoter’s stake would be a first for the UFC. Then again, much of McGregor’s career has featured lots of firsts for the UFC.