Conor McGregor always has options.
As arguably the biggest attraction across all combat sports, the Irish superstar will make his return to action at UFC 257 on Jan. 23 after a lackluster 2020 saw him only compete one time during the entire year.
Without any fights booked, McGregor actually retired but then began teasing a potential boxing match against former multi-weight world champion Manny Pacquaio. While both sides admitted talks had started, nothing ever really came to fruition, although McGregor has always promised a return to boxing after he went nearly 10 rounds with Floyd Mayweather in 2017.
With a fight against Dustin Poirier already on the books to start 2021, UFC president Dana White has been impressed by the kind of discipline McGregor has shown while preparing for his return. That might also translate into McGregor staying as busy this year as he wanted to be in 2020 but White hopes his focus stays on his main occupation in mixed martial arts rather than trying to crossover for another boxing match.
“The way that this kid is right now mentally, physically, emotionally, I mean this kid is on and ready to fight,” White told ESPN. “I would love to see him focused on what he can do here at the UFC. Whether it’s take another shot at that title against Khabib [Nurmagomedov] or fight for the title against somebody else if Khabib retires and defend that title.
“A boxing match with any of these guys, that stuff’s always going to be there. You are the absolute best in the world right now in MMA and the timing is right now. Not getting any younger. I’d love to see him go for it here over the next year. If he wants to fight one of these boxing guys, do that next year. That fight’s always going to be there.”
When McGregor fought Mayweather it was truly lightning in a bottle with both athletes coming together for a fight that produced one of the highest selling pay-per-view events of all time.
Since that time, McGregor has constantly hinted at a return to boxing but nothing has ever actually been booked.
White isn’t discounting the fact that it could ever happen in the future but he knows the work that went into making McGregor vs. Mayweather was truly a special event for that time and place.
“That was the perfect storm,” White said. “It all sort of came together perfectly with Floyd. It was fun. It was a fun thing to do but sort of a one and done for me.”
Beyond the Pacquiao fight, McGregor has also been invited to score a rumored eight-figure payday if he wanted to trade hands with YouTube celebrity Jake Paul. White previously shut down his interest in promoting any fight like that one and he’s not changing his tune just because of the money attached to it.
“I told you guys a few weeks ago at the fight, there’s a lot of fights out there that could be made,” White said. “I get it that could make money. You’ve got people running around talking stuff all the time. It’s not really what I do. Poirier vs. McGregor, that’s what I do.”