It should have been a showcase of mixed martial arts excellence, but UFC 229 in Las Vegas transformed from being a spectacular night of MMA to one of the most controversial events in UFC history, after violent skirmishes broke out following Khabib Nurmagomedov’s victory over Conor McGregor.
The ugly scenes have drawn global headlines and shone a spotlight on the sport of MMA for all the wrong reasons.
Despite his defeat, McGregor’s immense star power means he has options.
Some have suggested an immediate rematch with Nurmagomedov. But given the dominant, decisive nature of the Russian’s win – and considering the ugly scenes that followed – the UFC may be better served taking a different, less inflammatory, route.
A trilogy bout with old rival Nate Diaz would generate similar excitement and anticipation among the fans. And with the pair holding one win each after their first two bouts, a decider might just be the best option for McGregor and the UFC.
Other alternatives include Canadian superstar and former two-division world champion Georges St-Pierre, who has hinted at a possible return as a lightweight.
And if Nurmagomedov ends up being suspended and stripped of his title, it’s not out of the question that we could see McGregor’s next bout being contested for the lightweight title once again.
His most likely opponent in that scenario would be former interim champion Tony Ferguson, whose six-year, 11-bout win streak demands the next shot at the gold.
And (whisper it quietly) there is always the option of a return to boxing ring…
Whoever McGregor fights next one thing is certain. The eyes of the sporting world will be watching.