Conor McGregor has been teasing his return to the UFC as a welterweight but at least one top ranked fighter at 170 pounds cautions him against that move.
One-time title challenger Gilbert Burns believes McGregor would be completely outgunned, outmatched and overpowered when going against the best fighters in the world at welterweight.
“He’s not a welterweight but if he wants to fight at welterweight, I’d love to beat the s*** out of Conor,” Burns told MMA Fighting. “I think he’s not going to take that punch. I’m not even talking about grappling cause that’s not fair. [I’d] just take him down and maul him but a fight with Conor, it’s a win-win for me. I’m going to beat him up and I’m going to get a ton of crazy money.
“I’m not even calling for that fight cause it’s not fair. I think he’s a 55-pounder, [if] he’s at 170, he can’t take those punches. He cannot handle that wrestling.”
While McGregor has even pushed for a title shot against reigning UFC champion Kamaru Usman in the past, Burns doesn’t see how the Irish superstar could handle anybody near the top of the rankings much less the best fighter in the world.
McGregor currently sports a 2-1 record while competing at 170 pounds but his two wins came over Nate Diaz and Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone, who have both traditionally been lightweight for the vast majority of their careers.
When examining the fighters currently occupying the top spots at welterweight in the UFC, Burns believes everybody is going to be a terrible matchup for McGregor if he actually decides to test himself in the division.
“If you’re talking about the top five in the world, everybody hits hard except Colby [Covington] but everybody can wrestle,” Burns explained. “Colby can wrestle. Colby and Conor is not fun cause Colby would just outwrestle him. Kamaru [Usman], he can hit hard and he can wrestle. Khamzat [Chimaev], he can hit hard and he can wrestle. Leon Edwards, he can hit very hard, good striking and can wrestle. I hit hard and can wrestle so don’t say you’re a welterweight.
“You can’t handle the top five guys in that division. You can fight a couple of guys at 170 but he’s not a welterweight. If he really thinks [he is], try some top five [fighters] in that division. I think it’s not fair. We’d just destroy Conor.”
Of course, Burns has also been calling for a fight with Masvidal but realistically he just doesn’t see the UFC giving that matchup to McGregor instead after he returns to action following a broken leg suffered in his last outing against Dustin Poirier in 2021.
“I don’t think he’s going [to fight] Masvidal. I think he’s going to fight Michael Chandler,” Burns said about McGregor. “That’s the way I see it. That’s why I think I’m fighting Masvidal September, October and then I do believe whenever Conor is coming back, he’s coming back at 155 [pounds]. I don’t know why but I think he’s fighting Michael Chandler.”
Burns, who counts Chandler as one of his main training partners at Kill Cliff MMA in Florida, would love to see his teammate battle with McGregor, even if he’s not certain the former two-division UFC champion still possesses the same kind of desire he once had.
In fact, Burns wonders if McGregor will ever reach the same heights again that allowed him to hold multiple UFC titles while also serving as the biggest draw in the sport.
There’s no doubting the star power “The Notorious” still possesses but with a 1-3 record in his past four fights, Burns believes McGregor’s best days are already behind him.
“It’s a crazy fight. I think that’s going to happen. For sure, I’ve got my guy Chandler all day against Conor but I would love to see that fight. I think it’s going to be a crazy fight but Michael has so much power, he’s so athletic, the guy’s a beast.
“I think [Chandler] can knockout anyone in that division, especially Conor that’s kind of an athlete but he’s a celebrity. The guy, sometimes he’s training, sometimes he’s out drinking, going crazy, he doesn’t have the lifestyle to be in the top five of the division anymore. A lot of respect, the guy was double champ but he’s not that guy anymore. I don’t think he has the discipline to be at the top of the division. He doesn’t have that anymore.”