Conor McGregor is easily the most recognizable name in the UFC. The promotion's first-ever double champion has also headlined the five best-selling pay-per-view events in UFC history.
Islam Makhachev is currently one of the brightest stars in the UFC. The No.4- ranked lightweight is on a 10-fight win streak and will headline UFC 280, arguably the most stacked card of the year. His matchup against Charles Oliveira will mark his first title fight as well as his first time headlining a pay-per-view event.
McGregor last fought for a belt at UFC 229 nearly four years ago against Khabib Nurmagomedov, Makhachev's long-time friend and training partner. McGregor's rivalry with Khabib has also led to tension with Makhachev in the past, and McGregor could be looking to leverage the long-standing rivalry and aim for a title shot if Makhachev gets past Oliveira.
In a since-deleted tweet, McGregor took aim at Makhachev, reposting a photo stating "when your parents are cousins," and captioning it "The Makhachevs." Fans chimed in with mixed reactions to McGregor's tweet.
Some fans took it as an opportunity to poke fun at Makhachev:
Others felt that Conor McGregor was out of line:
Many fans also felt that Conor McGregor was attempting to set up a potential title fight against Islam Makhachev:
Does Conor McGregor deserve a title shot against Islam Makhachev?
Conor McGregor has repeatedly stated that he feels his next fight should be for the belt.
Despite having just one win in close to six years, McGregor's stardom has kept him in the title picture. Fighters know that fighting 'Notorious' gives them the best opportunity at a big payday. Islam Makhachev's UFC 280 opponent, Charles Oliveira, has been open about wanting a "money fight" with the Irishman.
For Makhachev, fighting McGregor could be about more than money. As we saw with Khabib Nurmagomedov, personal insults from McGregor do not sit well with the religious and family-oriented fighters. The opportunity to humiliate and defeat McGregor could increase the motivation for Islam to make the fight happen.
McGregor would surely be happy to be in the title picture, regardless of who is victorious at UFC 280. If not for his name and star power, it would be hard to envision him working his way back into title contention. The lightweight division is very deep and McGregor has been largely inactive since becoming a double champion.
If the fight against Makhachev materializes, then fans of McGregor can only hope that Conor resembles, on fight day, the fighter who beat Jose Aldo and Eddie Alvarez to capture double UFC gold.
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