UFC reportedly planning mini-tournament featuring McGregor, Diaz, Nurmagomedov and GSP
This would lead to record pay-per-view numbers for the UFC.
Having gone the guts of two years without an active champion, the UFC came up with a superb plan to push the lightweight division front and centre.
Khabib Nurmagomedov is now the champion after his UFC 223 victory over Al Iaquinta. That win saw Conor McGregor stripped of the belt and title he claimed back in November 2016.
However, with Iaquinta ranked 12th in the division, doubts still linger about Nurmagomedov's claim to be undisputed champ.
The promotion is hoping to put that right with a mini tournament that would feature 'The Eagle' along with McGregor, Nate Diaz and former welterweight and middleweight champion Georges St-Pierre.
According to Ariel Helwani of MMA Fighting, the UFC wanted St-Pierre to take on Diaz in Los Angeles on August 4. The winner of that bout would then take on whoever emerged from a September fight, in Las Vegas, between McGregor and Nurmagomedov.
The final, of sorts, would the be back in Vegas at the end of December.
Legal issues notwithstanding - McGregor is due in court, in Brooklyn, on June 14 for his role in an attack on a bus carrying fighters before UFC 223 - the promotion remains hopeful that 'The Notorious' will return to face Nurmagomedov in September.
The wrinkle in the plan, it would appear, is the GSP vs. Diaz side of the draw. Diaz was said to have high pay demands while St-Pierre, who vacated his 185lbs belt not long after defeating Michael Bisping, claims he is not healthy enough to take on such a fight. He said:
"I need to wait until all the symptoms of my ulcer stop. It’s much better than it was but it’s not 100 percent yet. If I try to return for a training camp for a fight it will amplify and go back to what it was in the beginning. I need to get over this first for my own health and safety."
St-Pierre taking on Diaz would have drawn big PPV, media and attendance figures but it would still be dwarfed by the return of McGregor, especially as it could be for the 155lbs title.
Ali Abdelaziz is keen on getting Nurmagomedov, his fighter, that wish-list bout with GSP but he outlinec that the Dagestani would readily welcome McGregor back to the world of mixed martial arts.
"There’s only one reason Khabib wants to fight him," said Abdelaziz, "[That is] too make him pay for what he did [in Brooklyn]. For Khbaib, it’s not only about money. It’s about disciplining him."