It's obvious who Conor McGregor should fight next, according to former UFC champion Luke Rockhold
The number-one contender is usually the most deserving of a title shot, but Luke Rockhold knows that things work a little differently when Conor McGregor's involved.
Each time McGregor steps inside the Octagon, the target on his back gets considerably bigger. Prior to UFC 205, every featherweight on the roster was trying to make their case to get their very own Red Panty Night. After he knocked out Eddie Alvarez to become the first fighter to simultaneously hold two UFC belts, he added the entirety of the most populated division to the queue.
There is one slight problem though, and it's not necessarily a bad one considering the Notorious hinted he would be taking some time off following the news that his girlfriend is expecting a baby next year. There's no real opponents out there at 145 or 155 that are likely to generate more interest or PPV buys than UFC 205.
While there are rumblings that McGregor may move up again to take on welterweight champion Tyron Woodley, it is expected that the Chosen One will rematch Stephen Thompson next after they went to a majority draw in New York.
The trilogy bout with Nate Diaz is arguably the biggest fight they could put on right now, but having the Stockton native jump the queue when other lightweights have been way more active wouldn't go down well with the rest of the division.
Conor McGregor's punch likened to Babe Ruth's swinghttps://t.co/cynBV5DPR8
— SportsJOE (@SportsJOEdotie) November 16, 2016
The two contenders at the business end of the lightweight division are undoubtedly Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson, who are currently ranked number one and two respectively.
Ferguson is riding a nine-fight win-streak in the UFC and recently outclassed former champion Rafael dos Anjos over five rounds. Khabib is undefeated in MMA, holding a ridiculous professional record of 24-0 and just annihilated explosive striker Michael Johnson on the preliminary card of UFC 205. The most logical solution, one that has been suggested by Chael Sonnen, is to make them slug it out in a title eliminator, but Luke Rockhold sees things differently.
The former middleweight king appears to be in Joe Rogan's camp when it comes to who McGregor should fight next. As he told Submission Radio, he believes his teammate Nurmagomedov has done more than enough to secure his title shot.
"It's obvious he deserves the title shot. What is he now, 24-0? It's ridiculous what he's done and everything."
"All the respect to McGregor, the guy is legendary. His left hand is second to none and his abilities are not in question. To say that he's not active enough is not fair. It's not fair to Khabib, it's not fair to the MMA world. You need to fight the best guys. Khabib has proven himself over and over again that he is the one."
Nurmagomedov was literally screaming at Dana White in between every round of the Johnson fight trying to convince him to give him what he wants. However, both he and Rockhold are aware that ultimately, it will be McGregor who decides who gets the next lightweight title shot.
"The UFC can't make McGregor do anything, it's going to be McGregor's choice. He's got to accept that and make that fight, you know, the war of the worlds thing go down - the Irish vs the Russians (laughs). He (Khabib) built it up quite well, I'm not going to lie. Kid's getting well (sic) with his mouth."
Legendary fighter Dan Henderson believes that Khabib will murk the Notorious and claim that coveted golden strap should the two ever meet inside the Octagon, but Rockhold doesn't share Hendo's confidence. Rockhold is sitting smack bang in the middle of the fence with his prediction for this potential bout.
"McGregor's dangerous. Khabib can't stay on the feet like he did with Johnson. I've never seen a left hand like that. He just touches guys and they wobble."
"Khabib is unlike anybody else I've ever grappled. A 55-er that can grapple with me and give me competition. I haven't seen that anywhere. Khabib gets hold of anybody and it's over. It's that striker vs grappler game. Khabib gets hold of McGregor and I don't think he's going to last at all, but the same thing, McGregor, you can't give him that opportunity on the feet."