UFC Fight Night 46 Results: 5 Fights for Conor McGregor to Take Next

Tim McTiernan@tmt2393Correspondent IJuly 19, 2014

UFC Fight Night 46 Results: 5 Fights for Conor McGregor to Take Next

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    Gregory Payan/Associated Press

    On Saturday, the UFC went to Dublin, Ireland with a main event of Conor McGregor against Diego Brandao in the featherweight division.

    There was a lot of buildup to this one, and fans knew that it was going to be an outstanding fight between two dangerous strikers.

    McGregor was fighting in his hometown and had the crowd on his side in a big way. It took just about four minutes for him to deliver a huge win by TKO in front of the Dublin crowd.

    He was ranked at No. 13 in the official UFC rankings coming into this fight, and a first-round win over Brandao is sure to move him into the top 10 of the division.

    McGregor is getting closer to a title opportunity, but he isn't quite there yet. Let's check out five fights for him to take to get him closer to a shot at that belt.

Jeremy Stephens

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Jeremy Stephens last fought in June, losing a unanimous decision to Cub Swanson.

    Prior to that loss, Stephens had been 3-0 since dropping to the featherweight division, including a 40-second knockout of Rony Jason. Before moving down in weight, Stephens had been a solid competitor at lightweight, taking on the likes of Donald Cerrone, Anthony Pettis, Melvin Guillard and more.

    Stephens is a striker who throws bombs—he has 15 of his 23 wins by (T)KO—and would be a great opponent to gauge if McGregor is ready to move into the upper tier of the division. If he were to get past Stephens, he would show he's ready for a title shot.

Clay Guida

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    David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

    Clay Guida would be a big step up in competition for McGregor. The Carpenter is 2-1 since dropping to featherweight. He has wins over Tatsuya Kawajiri and Hatsu Hioki, with the lone loss coming to Chad Mendes.

    Guida always comes looking for a great fight, and his constant action, movement and pressure would be a great challenge for McGregor.

    In addition, Mendes is still the person to finish Guida with strikes, so if McGregor could do the same, it would say a lot about his skills and potential in the division.

    Guida is currently set to face Dennis Bermudez at UFC on Fox 12, so if Guida loses, this fight may lose some of its luster.

Dustin Poirier

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Dustin Poirier was mentioned as an opponent on the post-fight recap on UFC Fight Pass, and he makes a lot of sense for McGregor.

    Poirier is on a three-fight win streak with two straight finishes and one Fight of the Night award. What makes a fight with McGregor interesting is their mutual opponent, Diego Brandao.

    Poirier scored a knockout win over Brandao at 4:54 of the first round, while McGregor did it at 4:48.

    Both are dangerous strikers, but Poirier also possesses a solid ground game, having scored six of his 16 career wins by submission.

    Should Poirier get into trouble on the feet, he could take the fight down, and we would get to see how McGregor scraps on the ground. It's worth nothing that McGregor's two career losses were both due to early submissions.

Nik Lentz

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    USA TODAY Sports

    If the UFC wants to challenge McGregor with a grappler rather than a striker, Nik Lentz would be a perfect choice.

    He is 4-1 in the featherweight division, with his lone loss being a decision to Chad Mendes in late 2013. Two of his wins have come over Diego Nunes and Manny Gamburyan, so he is definitely a formidable opponent.

    Lentz is known for grinding out his opponents, as he has scored 10 of his 25 wins by decision.

    He is scheduled to face Charles Oliveira in early September in a rematch of their fight, which ended in a no-contest. The timing may not match up for a fight between him and McGregor, but injuries could change anything at a moment's notice.

Cole Miller

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Cole Miller was McGregor's original opponent for the fight in Ireland. Unfortunately, he suffered a thumb injury and was forced to pull out of the fight.

    He is 3-1 in his last four, with two wins by submission and one worthy of a Submission of the Night award.

    With McGregor's win on Saturday, Miller may be a lower-ranked opponent than one would expect, but McGregor doesn't seem to care who he fights next as long as it gets him closer to the belt.