Tony Ferguson became the UFC’s interim lightweight champion last night at UFC 216 with a third round submission victory over Kevin Lee, and afterwards Dana White was adamant that Conor McGregor should fight him next.
Several pundits have been predicting that ‘The Notorious’ will likely target a lucrative trilogy fight with Nate Diaz instead, but as things stand that doesn’t appear to be in the UFC president’s plans.
“Nobody’s talked about Diaz,” White told reporters at the UFC 216 post-fight press conference. “Diaz has never been talked about. That’s internet bullsh*t.
“Tony’s the interim champion, Conor’s the champion, that’s the fight that makes sense. It’s the fight that has to happen, it doesn’t ‘make sense,’ it’s the fight that has to happen.”
Interestingly, White also indicated that he’s not completely ruled out the possibility that McGregor could fight Ferguson by the end of the year.
“We didn’t specifically talk about it, but yeah we talked about it kinda,” White said. “He wants to fight again this year. He does want to fight again this year so he went and partied in Ibiza for a while, went back home for awhile, you gotta let him blow off some steam and then figure it out.”
One man who wants it to happen as soon as it can be arranged is Ferguson, who sent out a warning to the Irish superstar that his time as champion is coming to a close, one way or another.
“This is chess. This is check. He’s going to be in checkmate soon,” Ferguson told the media at the presser. “He’s running out of time. He needs to defend or vacate. But if he isn’t going to defend it, I’ll tell you what: Just set it down, Conor, and just (expletive) walk away, and nobody will get hurt.”
Whether it’s late this year or sometime in 2018 though, White is convinced that this particular match-up would make for a highly entertaining spectacle.
“Tony’s a busy guy. He keeps coming forward, he keeps throwing all kinds of different things at ya. And Conor’s awesome. There’s no way that’s not a great fight. Impossible.”
That being said, the reality is that McGregor holds all the aces here as by far and away the UFC’s biggest and wealthiest star, so if he says he wants to go in a different direction and fight someone else then it’s going to be hard to convince him otherwise.