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Dana White: Tony Ferguson vs. Conor McGregor title unification bout ‘has to happen’

In arguably the UFC’s most talent-rich division, there’s only one fight that company president Dana White wants to discuss right now.

Saturday’s UFC 216 event in Las Vegas was capped off by Tony Ferguson submitting Kevin Lee in the third round of the headliner to capture an interim lightweight title. It was a star-making moment for Ferguson, who has racked up 10 straight wins and compiled a championship-level résumé inside the Octagon.

The next logical move would be for the matchmakers to pair him up with undisputed lightweight titleholder Conor McGregor, though “The Notorious” has expressed interest in a variety of opponents, including meeting Nate Diaz in a trilogy bout at some point in the future.

At the UFC 216 post-fight press conference, White shot down any Diaz rumors while getting fully behind a Ferguson-McGregor matchup.

“Nobody’s talked about Diaz. Diaz has never been talked about. That’s internet bullsh*t,” White said. “Tony’s the interim champion, Conor’s the champion, that’s the fight that makes sense. It’s the fight that has to happen, it doesn’t ‘make sense,’ it’s the fight that has to happen.”

Whether McGregor agrees with White on what’s next for him remains to be seen. The Irish superstar has rarely followed a predictable path when it comes to fulfilling a champion’s supposed responsibilities. After winning the featherweight title with a 13-second knockout of Jose Aldo in December 2015, McGregor followed that triumph with a pair of welterweight bouts vs. Diaz.

McGregor would then win the lightweight belt from Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205, but rather than facing one of the UFC’s contenders he opted instead to make his boxing debut in a mega fight against all-time great Floyd Mayweather. White couldn’t give a concrete answer when asked if McGregor is still planning to compete in the Octagon before the year is through.

“Not yet. We didn’t specifically talk about it, but yeah we talked about it kinda,” White said. “He wants to fight again this year. He does want to fight again this year so he went and partied in Ibiza for a while, went back home for awhile, you gotta let him blow off some steam and then figure it out.”

One thing White is sure of is that a fight featuring Ferguson and McGregor would be guaranteed fireworks

“Tony’s a busy guy,” White said. “He keeps coming forward, he keeps throwing all kinds of different things at ya. And Conor’s awesome. There’s no way that’s not a great fight. Impossible.”

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