Conor McGregor is still recovering from the horrifying leg injury he sustained at UFC 264. However, for obvious reasons, his return is already a hot subject of discussion in the sport.
UFC light heavyweight Anthony Smith thinks reigning lightweight champion Charles Oliveira is the perfect opponent for McGregor. Bisping also shares that sentiment, given that many still consider the 'Notorious' megastar to be the biggest name in the division, if not the whole promotion.
Moreover, 'The Count' noted that McGregor may still present a valid case for title contention as his recent losses were against credible fighters such as Dustin Poirier and Khabib Nurmagomedov.
On a recent episode of the Believe You Me podcast, Smith said:
"I do think Oliveira is the best match up [for McGregor] in the top five."
“Well. It’s the best matchup with the most to gain… If you wanted to make that argument for Conor, which I’m not about to do, but if you wanted to, it’s not that hard. You’d say ‘Hold on, he’s the biggest star in the division and he just lost to Dustin Poirier [twice], fair enough, who just fought for the belt. So you could say he’s next in line. And then the last person to beat him was Khabib Nurmagomedov.' I am not making excuses for Conor. What I’m trying to do is say, you could play devil’s advocate, devil’s avocado, and try and see a case for Conor, that is what you would say."
Watch the full episode below:
Charles Oliveira would be more than happy to welcome Conor McGregor back to action
Conor McGregor is still undoubtedly the UFC's top pay-per-view draw. However, some believe the Irish MMA superstar may have already lost his mojo following back-to-back defeats to Dustin Poirier.
For Charles Oliveira, he is still well aware of how big of a name McGregor is. The lightweight king even stressed that he's willing to make other contenders step aside in order to secure a money fight with the former two-division champion.
In a conversation with MMA Fighting’s Portuguese-language podcast Trocação Franca in December, 'Do Bronx' said:
"If I had the chance to fight Conor for money today, I would. The belt is mine and continues being mine. We’ll continue building our legacy and making history... Of course, no one’s a fool. ‘No, I’ll fight someone else because of the belt, leave Conor alone’ — who’s going to do that? Only a fool. If I had the opportunity to fight Conor, I would definitely fight Conor. The belt is mine regardless. The division has to get by and wait a little bit. There’s nothing else to do. We have to think about our families, our children; think about what we can do down the line.”
With Dana White's latest comments and decision to re-book Islam Makhachev's fight with Beneil Dariush, it seems increasingly likely that we could see McGregor challenge for the title later this year.