The ordering process for Ultimate Fighting Championship pay-per-views has changed: UFC 246 is only available on ESPN+ in the U.S.
While UFC president Dana White has hinted that Conor McGregor could get a rematch with reigning lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov as soon as his second Octagon appearance, the Dagestani fighter’s team seems to have other ideas.
In a recent interview with TMZ Sports, manager Ali Abdelaziz claimed that a return date with McGregor is hardly a priority for “The Eagle.” Nurmagomedov submitted McGregor in the fourth round of their title bout at UFC 229 in October 2018. A post-fight melee that ensued after the bout resulted in suspensions for both fighters, and interest in a rematch remains high for the Irish star. The event reportedly set a record for pay-per-view buys, which explains the promotion’s interest in a rematch.
“Listen, Dana’s the greatest promoter in history; I respect the man very much,” Abdelaziz said. “He has to make people care about Conor. And by mentioning Khabib’s name, he is making Conor more relevant. It’s OK. He promote, can do whatever. Khabib has a plan, Dana has a plan, Sometimes we’ll get upset, sometimes we’ll agree, but business moves on. “But Conor’s not on our radar. He might lose to ‘Cowboy,’ as far as I understand. I think he might lose.”
McGregor’s coach, John Kavanagh, recently stated that his fighter looks the best he’s ever seen during his current camp as he prepares to face Donald Cerrone in the UFC 246 headliner on Jan. 18. Abdelaziz dismissed that as the usual fight camp hype job. McGregor vs. Cerrone will be contested at 170 pounds, and McGregor last week posted a photo in which he looked to be in top shape. Again, Abdelaziz was not impressed.
“Listen, his coaches before the fight [with Nurmagomedov] said, ‘He’s ready, he’s going to knock Khabib out inside three rounds, he’s never been in better shape.’ And after that, they said they had a horrible camp, his food was like a balloon. They’re liars,” he said.
“He looks like a blew-out balloon. He’s a bodybuilder. That’s what I think. He’s getting no love from us.”
Even if McGregor does dispatch Cerrone in Las Vegas, Abdelaziz sees a much more worth contender on the horizon for Nurmagomedov, who first must defeat Tony Ferguson in April.
“What about guys like Justin Gaethje?” he said. “He’s been winning and knocking people out. Logically, he is (the next top contender). He’s ranked No. 3. No. 2, Dustin Poirier, fought for the title. That’s the only fight that makes sense for him, for his career, to fight the champion.”