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Dana White: ‘I’m assuming’ Tony Ferguson is next in line for Khabib vs. Poirier winner

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Tony Ferguson knows better than most that nothing is guaranteed but for now it appears he’s the next contender in line to fight for the UFC lightweight title.

Following 12 straight wins including back-to-back victories over Anthony Pettis and Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone, Ferguson would seem to be the only legitimate choice to battle the winner of the upcoming title unification bout between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Dustin Poirier at UFC 242 in September.

Unfortunately, Ferguson has been in this position before but for one reason or another, he still hasn’t fought for the undisputed title at 155 pounds.

The biggest obstacle standing in his way right now could be the return of Irish superstar Conor McGregor, who has made it no secret that he wants to avenge his previous defeat to Nurmagomedov when they met last October. Despite McGregor not competing since that loss, he remains the biggest draw in the sport and always seems to find a way into the fights that he wants most.

According to UFC president Dana White, talks are still ongoing with McGregor on his return to action but in his mind Ferguson is the next No. 1 contender awaiting a title shot.

“Khabib is fighting Dustin Poirier in Abu Dhabi in September. Then I don’t know, then we’ll see. Tony Ferguson just came off a great win this weekend over “Cowboy” Cerrone and I’m assuming he’s next,” White told the LV Sports Biz podcast. “Then we’ll see what happens with Conor, what Conor wants to do.”

White still can’t say with 100 percent certainty what he expects out of McGregor after speculating that the former two-division UFC champion would return this summer yet no deal has ever been struck for his next fight.

With all of the major summertime UFC pay-per-view cards already filled, McGregor would likely be looking at an October return at the absolute earliest but even that remains up in the air for now.

“Conor McGregor has been amazing for the company, for the sport. Introducing the sport to a lot of Europeans that didn’t otherwise watch it back then. He’s been amazing and part of his personality, Conor McGregor loves to negotiate,” White explained. “This guy really, truly is not just a fighter but he’s actually a really good businessman.

“If you look at the whiskey brand that he’s building right now, and what he’s done with that in such a short amount of time, he’s killing it. He’s a kid that loves to fight but he’s also a kid who has a lot of other options so it’s not just fighting that’s paying his bills.”

McGregor has certainly been able to negotiate his way into some massive paydays including his 2017 boxing match against Floyd Mayweather that reportedly earned him north of $100 million.

As far as his future goes with the UFC, McGregor may have to pull another rabbit out of the hat if he wants to leapfrog Ferguson to get another shot at the lightweight title after Nurmagomedov and Poirier meet in September.

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