"If he wants to come back and he wants somebody that's gonna stand with him and gives him the type of fights that he likes...look no further, my brother." Those are the words directly from the mouth of Jorge Masvidal to TMZ (warning: profane language) on Wednesday.
Conor McGregor has managed to be more active on social media than he has been inside the Octagon since losing to Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 229. With the rise of each lightweight or welterweight, the questions about a future bout with the Irish star come soon after. It was no different for Masvidal, who is open to the fight.
And what a fight it would be.
We have the hypothetical bout. McGregor's theatrics vs. Masvidal's realness. What we do not have is a bout agreement or even the semblance of one. Is this a feasible fight to bring McGregor back? Will Masvidal spurn a shot at the title for a fight with the Irishman? Quite simply...will we get to see this fight?
Scott Harris: I don't want to be that guy. But sometimes we all need to hold our ideas up to the cold light of the morning. McGregor vs. Masvidal is a dream fight. If promoters dream while they sleep, this is the kind of thing that's in there. But it ain't gonna happen.
Masvidal's on board, as one might expect. Red panty day is still very much a thing, and everyone knows that. Everyone including the man who coined the phrase. I don't know if you've noticed, but McGregor has been a tad on the, shall we say, freewheeling side of late. He can't remember a time when he needed the money or when he didn't make bad whiskey that everyone pretended was good.
But amid all the pomp and social media circumstance, McGregor has been consistent on one point: He wants a stake in the UFC. That's always been a red line for UFC President Dana White, going back to those wacky Fedor Emelianenko negotiations. It's never going to happen, at least under this regime. McGregor has no need and, increasingly it seems, no desire to fight.
In the rare serious moments, McGregor continues to press for a rematch with Khabib Nurmagomedov, but with Dustin Poirier and Tony Ferguson ahead of him, that won't materialize overnight. McGregor also realizes he'd be giving up a good amount of size to the welterweight Masvidal. It's a winnable fight for McGregor, as are the others, at least to some reasonable degree. But none of it's easy. Teasing everyone is a lot easier.
Nathan McCarter: I am with you that this fight won't materialize.
While I do think McGregor will return at some point in the near future (within 12 months), Masvidal won't be that guy. McGregor is smart, and while Masvidal will give him the stand-up fight he wants, he isn't the stylistic choice to shine against.
A title fight or a trilogy bout with Diaz makes the most sense when, or perhaps rather if, he steps back inside the Octagon. The latter is a guaranteed blockbuster, but the former does put Masvidal in play. McGregor chases history.
Let's presume Masvidal takes his shot at gold and cashes in against Kamaru Usman. The potential is there for McGregor to get a crack at becoming a three-weight world champion against a smaller welterweight who will stand and exchange with him instead of grappling. Under those circumstances, I do think the fight becomes a distinct possibility for McGregor. Will it happen? Unlikely.
But let's put aside the fact that the probability for this fight coming to fruition is low. How would it play out? It is actually a compelling fight on the feet. Who would get their hand raised?
UFC on BT Sport @btsportufc
"He wants to come back, he's waiting to see how everything plays out in September." "Jorge is too big for him..." Dana White gives an update on Conor McGregor and reveals the Irishman wasn't happy when he said @GamebredFighter was "too big" for him 👀 https://t.co/YrAomDgy1u
Harris: I think it's likely that it would play out on the feet as opposed to another phase, and I think the bigger guy would get it done. McGregor can compete at 170 pounds, but it would probably take five intense and perhaps lucky rounds for him to beat Masvidal. Too much would need to go right, especially for a guy in a state of perpetual semi-retirement. Masvidal is too smart to get baited into McGregor's left hand. Gamebred would grab a close but clear decision.
McCarter: I certainly do not think the fight would result in a knockout, but I give McGregor a very real chance to win this one. Without luck.
Masvidal is only moderately taller than McGregor, and they have the same reach. Masvidal is not a hulking welterweight, having served a large portion of his career at 155 pounds. And the stand-up battle between the two would allow McGregor's skills to come through as much as it would for Masvidal. And I would make the prognostication that he beats Masvidal on the scorecards.
The main reason is that while Masvidal has finally ascended to the top of the heap, he has a long career of giving up rounds, and subsequently fights, in the type of bout that McGregor would offer him. As it gets to the championship rounds where he hasn't been as often, Masvidal may take his foot off the gas and allow McGregor to pick up easy rounds in what would be a close fight. There is a little too much risk with taking Masvidal to win a five-round decision.
But it is a compelling fight. Perhaps one of the top three or five the UFC could put on in 2019 or early 2020. McGregor may not need to come back at all, but should he step back inside the cage, this is the hottest fight to book.