Anthony Pettis has some work to do yet, namely, defeating Nate Diaz this Saturday at UFC 241. But, if that happens, “Showtime’s” longtime coach Duke Roufus believes it will put a showdown with Conor McGregor in motion.
The lead-up to Diaz vs. Pettis
Back when Pettis was ruling the UFC’s lightweight division, there was extensive talk about him fighting Diaz. The two traded verbal shots through the media, but after Diaz was defeated by Rafael dos Anjos and Pettis lost the title to RDA not long after, their paths diverged. Diaz’s path, as you surely know, included splitting two fights with McGregor.
When Diaz returns to the Octagon this Saturday at UFC 241, it will mark the first time he’s competed since he lost his rematch to McGregor in 2016. Pettis, meanwhile, is coming off a jaw-dropping knockout of Stephen Thompson this past March.
McGregor vs. Pettis?
“That other fight that’s looming out there I think that’s going to pique a lot of interest when Anthony does the business Saturday, I see him and Conor McGregor being on a collision course,” Roufus said. “I think it’s definitely going to get Conor’s attention when Anthony beats a guy that beat him and another guy that he won by close decision – especially if Anthony does what I think he’s capable of doing and stopping Nate Diaz.”
“…I think Anthony’s trying to get those big challenges on the way out the door of his career,” Roufus said. “Anthony was the Conor before Conor was Conor, the kid with the flashy suits, the look, the style, the pizazz, and he could fight like that, so it would be the makings of quite the super fight.”
Now, there’s no question that a lot of fans, particularly fans that have been watching MMA for a while, would flock to see McGregor vs. Pettis. But, is Roufus right? In terms of McGregor being interested in that match-up? If Pettis defeats Diaz?
It’s possible. From a stylistic standpoint, one would think a fight with Pettis would draw McGregor’s interest. Further, Pettis is a former champ, so, there’s a legacy component to that match-up as well.
But, are there other match-ups McGregor might be more interested in? There’s no question that if McGregor can get another shot at the 155 title, he’s going to take it. As it stands right now, if Khabib Nurmagomedov defeats Dustin Poirier on September 7th, McGregor will need to take another fight in the interim. Khabib has repeatedly said that McGregor doesn’t deserve an immediate rematch, and Tony Ferguson has done everything possible to earn a title fight. If Poirier wins, however, don’t be surprised if the UFC taps Conor for a title shot. The reason being that he defeated Poirier back in 2014.
There’s also the upcoming September 14th bout between Donald Cerrone and Justin Gaethje. If someone scores an emphatic win in that bout, and a title shot’s out of the picture for McGregor next, he may look at facing the winner.
UFC 241 will take place in Anaheim, California.