Conor McGregor's next opponent inside the UFC's Octagon may finally be set in stone.
"The Notorious One" hasn't been seen inside the cage since November of last year when he knocked out Eddie Alvarez in the second round of their UFC 205 main event meeting for the lightweight title. McGregor became the first fighter in UFC history to hold two titles in different weight classes consecutively. After that the Irishman announced that he would be taking some time off from fighting to enjoy the birth of his first child.
After a few months, however, news broke that "The Notorious One" had struck a deal to make his professional boxing debut against Floyd Mayweather. He would go on to lose the fight via 10th round TKO and proclaimed that he is prepared to return to the world of MMA.
This past weekend longtime lightweight contender Tony Ferguson captured the interim 155-pound crown when he submitted Kevin Lee in the third round via triangle choke. Ferguson proceeded to call out McGregor and demanded that he 'defend or vacate' his title.
Earlier this week Ferguson joined The MMA Hour to continue his call out on McGregor and claimed that he is 'scared' to defend his title against him (quotes via MMA Fighting):
“I believe so,” Ferguson said Monday on The MMA Hour. “I mean, if Dana says it, then we’re going to hold it to him.
"The UFC is pretty good with that, right? They don’t want to be called liars, and I don’t want to make them a liar, so this sh*t needs to happen.
“Look, Conor watches the fights. This dude didn’t say sh*t. He didn’t say sh*t on Twitter. He didn’t even comment saying ‘good fight.’
"He said he was looking forward to watching this fight — he hasn’t said nothing. The boy is scared. He’s running. I told him, just set the belt down and walk away and nobody will get hurt.
"That’s all you’ve got to do: just set it down and you won’t get ass kicked, I swear, by another Mexican. This is a tough fight for him, man, and I don’t think that he’s got enough cornermen in the world to try to help him on this one.
“I’ve given reasons before, as far as management telling him not to, or he’s just afraid or he’s not afraid, or if he’s just trying to get under my skin. It doesn’t matter,” Ferguson said.
“I’ve wrestled them all, I’ve fought them all, and Conor is not different than any other man or human being in this world.
"The man wants to call himself a god, but he bleeds, so I can expose him as well. I guarantee you, there’s no big animosity there, but the callout was real and it was genuine.
“I really want to kick this dude’s ass because I believe that my skills are better. I guarantee you that I’d be a better champ and I would defend the belt.
"He defends the belt zero times. Zero times. He won it, he talked his way into this sh*t, and my management knows exactly where I stand with this, and I don’t stand for that kind of sh*t.
"I’m here right now putting numbers behind it, the same way that I made them take me into The Ultimate Fighter.
“We’re all professional here, and that’s how I’m going to take it,” Ferguson said. “I’m going to be professional with it.
"I think I’ve grown with my management, they’ve grown with me. I signed with them before McGregor did, but it’s not like I came here first (to the title) — I came here second.
“Protect your pocket, I guess. But in the reality of everything, you have a conscious, and it’s going to be on theirs, and it’s not going to be on mine because I’ve been earning this the whole entire way.
"So it’s going to have to be on them. Like I said, I don’t want to try to look for different management. I love my guys, and I actually like them now, so in due time we’ll find out, man.
"Straight up. Because Dana says it needs to happen, it needs to happen.
“Conor needs his ass kicked and we need to unify that belt. Otherwise he needs to vacate, set it down, walk away, and never f*cking come back.
"Because if you go to 170, if you go to 185, or even if you drop to 145, I will f*cking follow you, Conor, and I will haunt your f*cking dreams, kid, and I will come after you.
"And one day, no matter whether we have the same management or not, you will f*cking see me again. And I will put some pain on you, bro.
“I haven’t been told anything, but I can read people and I can tell that they don’t want this fight to happen,” Ferguson said.
“They don’t. They want to protect their pocket. Just everybody, they just don’t want it to happen. They don’t want Conor to lose. This guy’s got a lot to lose. He’s got everything on the plate and all I have is everything to gain.
"And everybody’s going to do what they have to do, but at the end, everybody’s going to have a great fight. What they’re going to get is fireworks.
“I think Conor’s full of sh*t, I don’t think he’s going to fight this year,” Ferguson said. “I think he was just saying it to keep people on their toes. But if he wants to go in 2017, I’m down.
"I’m ready to start training next week. We’ve got a 12-week training camp, we can get this sh*t rolling. The doctors already know that I’m not injured.
“I took a couple a shots (against Lee), but sometimes you’ve got to take one to give two, and with Conor, I don’t want to get hit. It’ll be a completely different training camp, and he’s not ready, man.
"He can have as many trainers in the world trying to help him with this one, but I’m a Pandora’s Box, man, and he doesn’t know how to open this sh*t.”
What are your thoughts on Ferguson's comments towards a possible lightweight title unification bout against McGregor? How do you think Ferguson will fare inside the Octagon against "The Notorious One?" And do you think Ferguson will even be the first fighter to get a crack at McGregor? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!
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