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Dana White hopes to get Conor McGregor fighting next summer, ‘He needs to defend that title’ vs. Tony Ferguson

Conor McGregor
Esther Lin, Showtime Sports

Even though Conor McGregor has given no indication of when he plans to fight again, UFC president Dana White is optimistic that the company’s biggest star will be back in 2018.

McGregor was last seen making his professional boxing debut against Floyd Mayweather in August. The fight did not go the Irishman’s way, but McGregor was paid a handsome sum of $30 million for the crossover bout and his earnings were expected to approach the nine-figure mark once a number of other factors were taken into consideration.

That has left “The Notorious” in the enviable position of calling his own shots on his own time and White hopes that McGregor decides he still wants to compete soon.

“Let’s get through the holidays and hopefully he starts to get the itch to come back and hopefully we can get him back this summer,” White said, when asked about McGregor’s status during an appearance on ESPN’s SportsCenter on Thursday.

McGregor’s salary could be one of the main reasons why he has yet to make a commitment to another UFC booking. The 29-year-old has not competed inside the Octagon since UFC 205 in November 2016, where he earned a disclosed salary of approximately $3.5 million.

It’s not known whether McGregor expects to receive a raise to at least approach the money he made for the Mayweather bout, but White believes that won’t be a sticking point in negotiations with McGregor.

“Money is always a factor but we’ve never had a problem getting a deal done with Conor McGregor. I don’t see that being a problem,” White said. “The question is does he want to come back and do it? No matter how much money you make, I always feel like with certain people you can only go on so many vacations, there’s only so much stuff you can buy and then you’re ready to get back to the grind, hopefully.”

Prior to his SportsCenter interview, White spoke to FOX Sports’ Undisputed crew where he discussed who McGregor would actually fight should he compete next year.

“What we have to do is - he needs to defend that title,” White said when asked what he thought was next for McGregor.

A trilogy bout with Nate Diaz was dismissed (though White mentioned it was definitely a possibility somewhere down the line), and interim champion Tony Ferguson was put forth as the most likely candidate to challenge McGregor for the undisputed lightweight title.

“Tony Ferguson is the fight right now and is the move if (McGregor) wants to come back.”

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