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Dana White: Khabib Nurmagomedov, not Jorge Masvidal, is next for Conor McGregor

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Conor McGregor is ready for whatever gets thrown at him after his 40-second TKO against Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone. But UFC president Dana White is stuck on only one potential opponent.

Just minutes after the former two-division champion stormed through the UFC 246 main event, White was asked about what comes next for McGregor with a long list of fighters lining up for the chance to face him.

“BMF” champion Jorge Masvidal has made it clear he wants McGregor next, and human wrecking ball Justin Gaethje wasted no time calling for the fight after UFC 246 ended.

It appears both of them might be disappointed, because White is targeting a rematch between McGregor and lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov as soon as possible.

“There’s always somebody fun that can match up with Conor and everybody wants to fight Conor,” White said at the UFC 246 post fight press conference. “Everybody’s wanted to fight Conor for the last however many years. When you look at what makes sense, we’re at a place where Conor was saying going into the Khabib fight, he had a lot of personal stuff. Some stuff self-inflicted, he had injuries and he had all these things going on, and he has been obsessed with getting that rematch, because he knows that he wasn’t 100 percent right.

“When you look at this for Khabib — Khabib is 28-0, he’s undefeated, and you start talking about this kid’s legacy. First of all, to 28-0 in this sport, I don’t care who you fought, it’s tough to do. Well, this guy’s a world champion. After tonight and with how Khabib won the fight the first time and how famous Khabib has become since that first fight, we’re looking at [Marvin] Hagler-[Tommy] Hearns. [Muhammad] Ali-[George] Foreman. Ali-[Joe] Frazier. This is a massive fight with global appeal. It’s the fight that you make. It’s the fight that makes sense. It’s the fight for the 155-pound title.”

As much as White wants to see McGregor and Nurmagomedov throw down again, there’s been a lot of buzz about McGregor’s possible fight with Masvidal, especially since the rapid rise of “Gamebred” in 2019. With knockouts over Darren Till and Ben Askren, and a lopsided win over Nate Diaz for the “BMF” title, Masvidal might just be the UFC’s second biggest draw behind McGregor.

Still, White says that fight just doesn’t make as much sense business wise as putting McGregor back into the rematch against Nurmagomedov.

“If Conor and Masvidal fight, neither one of them even has a title, although Conor does want his “BMF” title, but he doesn’t have a world championship,” White said. “Khabib’s the fight to make. It’s huge for Khabib’s legacy, too. If he beat Conor McGregor, and then he beats Tony Ferguson, and then he beats Conor McGregor again, this is how this kid when he retires, he’s 30-something and 0 and he’s beat all the best.

“I’m telling you right now Khabib versus Conor is the biggest fight in the company and the sport’s history, but I think it might rival Conor and Floyd [Mayweather].”

Those are lofty aspirations, considering the McGregor-Mayweather spectacle is regarded as the second biggest pay-per-view of all time. But White seems confident that’s how high the interest would be in a rematch with the undefeated Russian champion. In fact, he doesn’t believe he’d have a difficult time putting the fight together, no matter how much Nurmagomedov has discounted McGregor since defeating him the first time around.

“The reality is Khabib has never turned down a fight – ever,” White said. “Khabib doesn’t turn down fights; that’s not his style. He hates Conor McGregor and Conor McGregor hates him. So anytime you talk about one to the other, those are the types of responses you’re going to get.”