ABU DHABI, Jan 22 (Reuters) – Conor McGregor weighed in alongside three of the other top lightweight contenders on Friday ahead of UFC 257, and all made the class limit of 155 pounds.
It is McGregor’s return to lightweight after a victory last year in the welterweight class. Sunday’s card has him fighting Dustin Poirier, and Dan Hooker matched against Michael Chandler.
But the name on everyone’s lips this week has been Khabib Nurmagomedov, the retired champion in that weight class whose successor has yet to be crowned.
There is no title up for grabs Sunday, but the victors from those bouts will likely contest for the belt in their next match, provided Nurmagomedov does not return.
UFC president Dana White has been making no secret of the fact that he would like to see Nurmagomedov, who retired undefeated after beating Justin Gaethje last October, come back for a lucrative rematch with McGregor.
The Dagestani beat the Irishman via submission in 2018 in the main event of the most successful pay-per-view card in the organization’s history.
However, Nurmagomedov’s father and coach died in July, and though the fearsome wrestler took the Gaethje fight, he reportedly promised his mother not to enter the octagon again.
White has said he thinks Nurmagomedov would consider a comeback if any of the four lightweights on Sunday’s card can show him something worth getting back in the cage for.
His long-time training partner and friend Daniel Cormier said it will take a lot for Nurmagomedov to return. “It’s not going to be money anymore,” Cormier told reporters at a UFC press event on Thursday. “(It would take) something competitive that goes ‘Wow, this makes me want to put everything else aside and prepare for a fight!’”
McGregor said he is focused not on a Nurmagomedov rematch but on his second meeting with Poirier, whom he beat at featherweight in 2014 during his meteoric rise. Both men are 32 years old.
The 5-foot-9 McGregor is the first UFC fighter to score knockout finishes in the featherweight, lightweight and welterweight divisions — 145, 155 and 170 pounds, respectively.