When Dustin Poirier exacted his revenge against Conor McGregor at UFC 257, it seemed inevitable that the two gladiators would certainly run it back once again, further down the line. With the lightweight title up for grabs between Charles Oliveira and Michael Chandler at UFC 262, it appears the promotion may bring the highly anticipated trilogy bout to fruition.
However, since there has been no official confirmation by the UFC in this regard, here are three possible matchups, apart from the Dustin Poirier trilogy, that Conor McGregor could aim for next:
#3 Rafael Dos Anjos
Following the iconic 13 second knockout victory over Jose Aldo at UFC 194, Conor McGregor was slated to fight the then-lightweight king Rafael Dos Anjos next. The bout was set for UFC 196, which would have been McGregor's first shot at the coveted double champ status.
However, due to an injured foot suffered two weeks before the fight, Rafael Dos Anjos had to reportedly pull out from the bout and fans never got to witness Conor McGregor go up against the Brazilian champion. Now, with RDA ranked No. 7 in the division, coming off of a win over Paul Felder, it seems that the dream matchup could finally happen.
Earlier this year, Dos Anjos and Conor McGregor traded shots on social media, bickering over Dos Anjos' loss to Donald 'Cowboy' Cerrone in SUG.
#2 Islam Makhachev
The Irishman shared one of the most iconic rivalries with Makhachev's teammate, Khabib Nurmagomedov, who recently announced his official retirement from MMA. Following the infamous UFC 229 post-fight scuffle, Khabib's cornermen, including Islam Makhachev, jumped the fence to attack Conor McGregor.
The matchup with Islam Makhachev, who recently defeated Drew Dober in a dominant performance, seems more plausible than ever since Conor McGregor is on a two-fight losing skid in the lightweight bracket. McGregor certainly holds a grudge against Nurmagomedov's camp, as was apparent from one of his interviews following the UFC 229 brawl:
“As I jumped on top of the cage, his brother sprinted across and jumped on top of the cage also to climb in and help him and join the fight. I seen him there it was like a Christmas present. He was right there, I got to smack him in the eyesocket.”
#1 Justin Gaethje
According to Justin Gaethje's teammate Kamaru Usman, the former interim lightweight champion was yelling exasperatingly as he watched Conor McGregor lose at UFC 257. In an interview earlier this year, Usman told The Schmo that Gaethje wanted to fight McGregor next if the Irishman had emerged victorious at UFC 257.
"Justin actually walked up the stairs. I think maybe at one point I heard, 'F**k!' That is a fight that he wanted and rightfully so, he deserves that fight. He is a competitor. He wanted to compete against that man [Conor McGregor]. Seeing that happen, I think it kind of poked at him a little bit," said Kamaru Usman.
It appears that despite Justin Gaethje's well-known dislike for Conor McGregor, 'The Highlight' won't outright refuse a fight with 'The Notorious One' that guarantees a hefty paycheck.