Conor McGregor will return to and compete in the UFC in 2018, according to Dana White.
“Conor’s coming back this year,” the UFC president told reporters at Wednesday’s UFC 223 pre-fight press conference in Brooklyn, N.Y. “One hundred per cent. He will fight this year.”
In terms of McGregor’s next opponent, however, White would not say.
A logical answer would be the winner of Saturday’s main event between lightweight contender Khabib Nurmagomedov and current featherweight titleholder Max Holloway.
“We’ll see how this thing (the UFC 223 main event) plays out and we’ll go from there,” White said.
The title picture in the UFC’s 155-pound division has been a muddled mess ever since McGregor won the belt from Eddie Alvarez in November 2016. The Irish superstar never defended his belt—the same thing happened after he won the featherweight belt in 2015—so White said McGregor will be officially stripped.
Tony Ferguson was crowned interim lightweight champion this past October when he submitted Kevin Lee at UFC 216. Ferguson was scheduled to fight Nurmagomedov at UFC 223 but sustained a freak knee injury over the weekend and was replaced by Holloway on Sunday evening.
White added that Ferguson’s interim belt is “going away” and that the winner of Nurmagomedov-Holloway will be crowned the new champ. Ferguson will remain the division’s No. 1 contender.
“One of these guys is the champion,” White said while referring to Nurmagomedov and Holloway at the dais. “Period.”
Holloway (19-3) has won 12 fights in a row dating back to 2013, including back-to-back technical knockouts of Jose Aldo. He had been scheduled to face Frankie Edgar in the main event of UFC 222 in March yet he withdrew from that event after suffering an ankle injury in training camp. Holloway has the chance to become just the second fighter in UFC history to hold two titles simultaneously. McGregor is currently the only fighter to accomplish the feat.
“For Max, it’s going to be long night,” a supremely confident Nurmagomedov (25-0) said. “I respect him [but] it’s going to be long night.”