Conor McGregor criticises UFC rivals & hints at fighting behind closed doors

LAS VEGAS (Agencies): Mixed martial arts fighter Conor McGregor has suggested he would like to compete in one of the upcoming UFC behind-closed-doors events.

McGregor, 31, was critical of fellow lightweight fighters in a foul-mouthed social media outburst on Monday. He watched UFC 249 take place without fans in the USA on Saturday from home.

“The fans make the sport,” said McGregor. “But it will be my pleasure to display the power I possess with zero background noise for them.” There has been speculation about an upcoming McGregor fight after he posted a photograph on Instagram with the caption: “Stay ready.”

UFC president Dana White confirmed he spoke to McGregor before Saturday’s card in Florida – the first major sporting event in the United States since March – and discussed the possibilities of scheduling a bout. Former UFC lightweight champion McGregor was critical of other competitors at the weight, and suggested the next fight would be him against American Justin Gaethje, who successfully defeated compatriot Tony Ferguson for the interim lightweight title on Saturday.

“It’s me and Justin next as Khabib is the biggest bottle fighter in the game. Guarantee it,” he added. Khabib Nurmagomedov is the UFC lightweight champion and defeated McGregor last year, a contest which was marred by ugly post-fight scenes as the Russian scaled the cage to fight with McGregor’s team.

Nurmagomedov, 31, was scheduled to face 36-year-old Ferguson for the title, but the fight was cancelled for a fifth time because of the coronavirus pandemic. Gaethje came in as a replacement to fight Ferguson for the interim title on Saturday, with victory putting the 31-year-old next in line to face Nurmagomedov.

However, McGregor does not believe that fight will take place, making a jibe at the Russian for not showing up to face Ferguson this time. McGregor finished by saying that once he is finished with the lightweight division, he was going to move up to welterweight.

He has experience of the 170lb division, having competed there three times in the UFC – fighting Nate Diaz twice at that weight and, more recently, for his comeback victory over Donald Cerrone. If he won a title at welterweight, he would become the first man to win a world title in three weight divisions in the UFC.

McGregor also was scathing in his criticism of interim champion Gaethje, saying: “Try and dance around what the real threat is here all you want.” The Dubliner also criticised former opponent Dustin Poirier, who sits above McGregor in the lightweight rankings. “Dustin, although game, and in the mix, will be fed to the floor again,” he said. McGregor previously beat Poirier with a first-round stoppage in 2014 and said Ferguson should fight Poirier next.