Once the face of mixed martial arts and one of the most famous athletes in the world, Conor Mcgregor seemed to fall off in popularity after losing three out of his last four fights. With Charles Oliveira firmly holding onto the lightweight title and contenders Justin Gaethje and Islam Makhachev close behind, the former double champ is not in legitimate title contention. 


Despite where he may be in his career, his name still carries more weight than any other name in combat sports. His next fight will still get high ratings, but in order to maximize the potential hype that comes with “The Notorious”, it has to be against the proper opponent.


If the UFC wants to build up the hype train around McGregor again, they should pair him up with an opponent with a large name, yet still beatable so he can gain some momentum back. In this article, I create a short list of names that could be perfect to meet McGregor in the octagon, including my pick for the best possible matchup.


Islam Makhachev


The fastest riser of the lightweight division, Islam Makhachev’s roots with Khabib Nurmagomedov makes a bout against McGregor increasingly intriguing. Recently, Khabib added to the hype around this possible fight by saying he would come out of retirement to fight McGregor one more time if he beat Islam. 


However, I do not think it would be wise for Conor to take this matchup, simply for the fact that he will not win. Makhachev is on the path to take the lightweight championship from Charles Oliveira, a level McGregor is not at currently. Another loss would seriously lower the attention surrounding his fights in the future. 


Justin Gaethje


If any fighter can stand and bang with Conor McGregor, it’s Justin Gaethje. Gaethje’s striking has been on full display in his past couple of fights, including a beatdown on Michael Chandler in his most recent bout. Gaethje has a fight for the lightweight title coming up against Charles Oliveira, and if he does lose, McGregor seems like the next best fight, especially for his pocket.


On McGregor’s side, however, I believe he can find a larger name to go against than Gaethje, while still building momentum towards a title comeback. Besides, Gaethje is arguably on the same if not a higher level than Dustin Poirier, who already defeated McGregor in consecutive bouts. 


Jorge Masvidal


This matchup is too perfect. Jorge Masvidal and Conor McGregor have their fair share of similarities, including an exceptional striking ability and a short-tempered, vocal outside persona. Masvidal is currently suffering a losing streak of his own, most recently losing to Colby Covington by decision.


McGregor would have to bulk up for this fight, but a move up to welterweight is possible. A win is much more possible here than his first two options, and Masvidal will draw in more PPV purchases than Gaethje or Makhachev.


Jorge Masvidal recently ran into legal trouble after attacking Colby Covington in Miami beach, adding arrests to one more thing the two fighters have in common. Because of these arrests and other outside incidents, McGregor and Masvidal are two of the most polarizing fighters in the UFC, adding another layer of intrigue to the matchup.


At this point in Conor’s career, there is no better option for his wallet or his title quest than a fight against Jorge “Gamebread” Masvidal.

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