While Conor McGregor is back in the UFC after 18 months away, he is already looking to another foray into boxing. Ahead of his UFC 246 clash with Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone in Las Vegas, McGregor was already peering beyond the Octagon.
He pushed a rematch with Floyd Mayweather Jr. or a bout with Manny Pacquiao.
There’s plenty to consider with McGregor’s future plans. While fans were placing bets on his Cerrone fight through sites like 2, the Irishman was on the next phase of his career. Is putting his eye on a bigger prize a problem for the 31-year-old, who increasingly seems bored of the UFC?
Or more, accurately, Conor sees more lucrative fights away from the Octagon. Let’s be clear, McGregor does not want to clash with Mayweather or Pacquiao because of a love of boxing. No, he sees the paycheck he can get against those boxing legends and it interests him. Not least because there’s no way McGregor is winning a boxing contest against either.
Of course, getting Mayweather to fight MMA would sway the fight firmly into McGregor’s camp. However, speaking to Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show, the Irishman, who fights Cerrone TONIGHT (Jan. 18) in Vegas, said he wants a rematch with Mayweather, but it probably won’t be in the Octagon.
“It was a great, great experience, and, you know, I look forward to doing it again,” McGregor told Helwani, discussing his loss to Mayweather. “It’s going to happen again.”
McGregor insists Mayweather made a verbal promise to hold a rematch, but this time with MMA rules. Mayweather has often discussed his MMA training but has never seemed serious about a crossover. McGregor says the boxer has always avoided taking a rematch to the Octagon.
“It was supposed to be me boxing, then we do a mixed martial arts bout,” McGregor said. “That’s what was said, and it came out of his mouth as well. It was not written, but it was a verbal agreement. Obviously, that’s not going to happen, and I’m not going to push him on that, either.”
Then there’s Pacquiao, who could be a potential boxing matchup for McGregor should a rematch with Mayweather not happen. Clearly, Mayweather’s unbeaten record adds more prestige, but Pacquiao is prestigious enough to generate heat for a fight with McGregor.
“I would be open to other boxing bouts,” McGregor said. “You know, Manny [Pacquiao]. We’re actually close to signing Manny. There’s been talks about the Manny fight as well.”
Most UFC fans view McGregor’s foray into boxing as a circus and would prefer he focus on MMA. However, there have been question marks over his commitment since he lost to bitter rival Khabib Nurmagomedov in October 2018. Leading up to his fight with Cerrone, McGregor admitted he lost his desire even before fighting Khabib.
“I was drinking all bleeding fight week the last time,” McGregor told ESPN. “I’ve made mistakes. And, you know, I’ve been man enough to admit them and correct them. And that’s what I’ve done. I mean, I might not be perfect, right? But with a good sleep and a full belly, I’m damn close.”