UFC Boss Dana White Says Conor McGregor Will Return to Octagon In 'Early' 2020

Dustin Poirier, Nate Diaz, Jorge Masvidal, Tony Ferguson or even Khabib Nurmagomedov could be the Irish superstar's comeback fight opponent.
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Conor McGregor

UFC President Dana White says Conor McGregor will fight in the Octagon "early next year." 

White broke the news to TMZ Sports in a new video. While nothing is set in stone, it will mark the former featherweight and lightweight champ's first UFC bout since McGregor suffered a brutal loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 229 last October. 

McGregor made headlines earlier this week with a curious tweet reading "Dublin, December 14th," Some believe he was hinting at the place and time of his long-awaited UFC return. 

However, that's the day UFC 245 is scheduled to take place in Las Vegas, and White isn't entertaining any notion of a venue change. 

"He wants Dublin, but we've got Vegas." When asked about a McGregor vs. Nurmagomedov sequel, White said "that's possible too down the road." 

But the Irish superstar's next matchup depends partly on the outcome of two forthcoming superfights: Jorge Masvidal vs. Nate Diaz, which is set to take place at UFC 244 on November 2, and a yet-to-be confirmed showdown between Tony Ferguson and the undefeated Nurmagomedov, who recently submitted Dustin Poirier to retain his lightweight belt at UFC 242.

Then again, Poirier could just as easily be his next challenge. McGregor beat him via technical knockout way back in 2014 at UFC 178, and there are rumors swirling that the UFC is considering adding a second fight to the UFC 244 card. White even said "If [McGregor] doesn’t fight on that card, he’ll fight early next year" in a Twitter Q&A session with fans. 

MMA Fighting has further details on why McGregor vs. Poirier II would make sense:  

Adding McGregor to the card would be a huge boost to the year-end show, and the ex-champ has traded barbs with former interim titleholder Dustin Poirier over social media. Poirier called for a rematch against the Irish superstar following his third round submission loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 242.

Poirier lost to McGregor in 2014 when they competed in the featherweight division. After the setback, Poirier re-established himself as one of the best lightweight fighters in the world, racking up a 9-2 record with one no contest while McGregor’s lone win in the division came back in Nov. 2016 when he defeated Eddie Alvarez to claim the 155-pound title.

Sources close to Poirier tell MMA Fighting the former interim champion could be ready to return in December for a showdown against McGregor – if the UFC is interested in the rematch.

"I think Conor would fight somebody else before [Nurmagomedov]," White continued in his TMZ interview. "Tony Ferguson [vs. Nurmagomedov] has to happen...[The] Masvidal and Diaz winner is in the mix too."

White also shot down a rumor from Nurmagomedov's manager, Ali Abdelaziz, who previously told the TMZ that retired MMA legend George St-Pierre will be the Dagestani wrestling specialist's next opponent.

"Tony Ferguson [vs. Nurmagomedov] is the fight that needs to happen. We've tried to do it four other times, so hopefully we can do it this time. But that's the fight that makes sense."

That said, White would entertain the idea of Nurmagomedov vs. GSP if Ferguson isn't interested. 

"That can happen too," he said. "So, we'll see what happens with Tony. Tony's had opportunities before that he didn't take, so if he doesn't, I'd be interested in talking about GSP."

One thing's for sure: there's plenty of action to keep UFC fans excited in 2020.