If Conor McGregor returns to fight in the UFC in 2018, it appears he won’t be fighting until at least the summer.
That’s the latest word from UFC president Dana White, who revealed on Thursday that he’s still not certain what the future holds for McGregor but he does hope to get the reigning lightweight champion back in mid-2018.
“I haven’t talked to Conor about fighting, we talk about other things but like I said before, he made a lot of money and I’m sure him and his family had an amazing Christmas. Get through the holidays and hopefully he starts to get the itch to come back and hopefully we can get him back this summer,” White told ESPN.
That’s a much different timeline than originally expected after White had teased that he wanted McGregor back before the end of 2017, although that date obviously isn’t happening.
It seemed more likely that McGregor would return during the first quarter of next year to unify the lightweight championship against current interim title holder Tony Ferguson.
Ferguson just recently had elbow surgery and was expected to return sometime around March or April.
It appears there’s still a chance Ferguson will fight around that date but it might not be the matchup against McGregor after all.
“We have Khabib [Nurmagomedov] and Edson Barboza [at UFC 219], two more of the top guys in that division so this is going to shake out. It’s going to be interesting. If whoever wins the Barboza-Khabib fight while we’re trying to figure out this Conor mess, could end up fighting Tony Ferguson for the opportunity to fight Conor McGregor so we’ll see,” White revealed when speaking to FS1.
That’s certainly a new wrinkle being added to the potential plans for McGregor upon his return as White had previously been rather adamant that he had to fight Ferguson to unify the titles.
Now it seems White may be considering Ferguson defending the interim belt against either Nurmagomedov or Barboza with the winner then getting the chance to unify the title with McGregor later in 2018.
Either way, White still can’t be sure that McGregor will ever return again after he pocketed a reported $100 million payday for his boxing match against Floyd Mayweather earlier this year.
“There’s two different sides to this coin. There’s the one that you just said [about making $100 million and still getting punched in the face] then there’s the one where there’s only so many trips you can go on and there’s only so much stuff you can buy before you start to get bored and you want to get back in the game. So I don’t know,” White said.
“Right now, I don’t really have a feel on what Conor wants to do. Conor’s rich, it’s the holidays, I’m sure his whole family had a great Christmas and we’ll see what the New Year brings.”
Of course, White would like nothing more than to see McGregor get back in action but he promises the UFC is going to keep going whether he’s fighting next year or not.
“If Conor McGegor fights next year, that’ll be awesome,” White said. “If Conor McGregor doesn’t fight, I mean the UFC’s going to go on.”