Conor McGregor’s return to UFC could come in Russia

Updated July 17, 2017 - 10:28 pm

UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor says he wants to return to the octagon before the end of the year despite the massive paycheck he will cash by boxing Floyd Mayweather Jr. on Aug. 26 at T-Mobile Arena.

“I believe so,” McGregor said of whether he will compete in the UFC in 2017. “I believe I’ll come out of this fight without a scratch.”

McGregor spoke Friday at a news conference in London following the last stop on the world tour promoting the bout against Mayweather. It seems as if the challenge of stepping out of his comfort zone into the circus atmosphere that has surrounded this bout has given McGregor a taste for thinking outside the box.

He said one possibility for his return to MMA would be to challenge top contender Khabib Nurmagomedov in Russia on what would be the UFC’s first card in that country.

“That’s certainly an option that I’m exploring,” he said. “That would be a spectacle. It would be like something out of ‘Rocky.’ I suppose this whole story is like a ‘Rocky’ story, right? So why not face a man in his home country in a crazy place like Russia?

“It’s certainly something I’d like to do. There’s a couple of options on the table. We’ll see what unfolds.”

Nurmagomedov is likely behind Tony Ferguson in the lightweight pecking order after he was forced to pull out of their scheduled top contender bout at UFC 209 in March when he was hospitalized during a difficult weight cut. Ferguson is certainly a possibility, as is a trilogy fight against Nate Diaz.

Of course, all of this assumes he doesn’t take his massive boxing paycheck and enjoy life with his newborn son for an extended period.

For now, McGregor is just glad to have the four news conferences in four days across three different countries behind him.

“It’s done now, it’s wrapped up,” he said. “Let’s get ready to fight.”

McGregor is expected to complete the training camp for his first boxing match in Las Vegas.

‘TUF’ 26 coaches revealed

Breakout lightweight star Justin Gaethje will serve as a coach on the upcoming Season 26 of “The Ultimate Fighter,” the organization officially announced Monday.

He will be opposed by veteran Eddie Alvarez as they lead teams of women’s flyweight fighters.

The season will serve as the introduction of the new weight class to the UFC and the winner of the tournament will be crowned the first women’s flyweight champion in the organization.

Gaethje and Alvarez are already in Las Vegas as filming began late last week. The season will premiere on Aug. 30 on Fox Sports 1.

Alvarez is a former lightweight champion. He lost the belt to Conor McGregor in November and had his May fight against Dustin Poirier end in a no-contest when Alvarez landed an illegal knee.

Gaethje, the undefeated former World Series of Fighting champ, made a big splash in his UFC debut by knocking out Michael Johnson late in the second round in a fight-of-the-year candidate on July 7 at T-Mobile Arena.

Northcutt out of UFC 214

Popular welterweight Sage Northcutt has been scratched from a planned UFC 214 bout on July 29 against John Makdessi.

Both fighters suffered injuries while training.

The card, which will take place at Honda Center in Anaheim, California, will be headlined by three title fights, including a light heavyweight rematch between champion Daniel Cormier and ex-champ Jon Jones.

UFC debuts on Long Island

The UFC will take the octagon to Long Island for the first time on Saturday when Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum plays host to UFC on Fox 25.

Former middleweight champion Chris Weidman, a native of nearby Baldwin, New York, will look to snap a three-fight losing streak in the main event as he takes on Kelvin Gastelum.

Fellow Long Islander Dennis Bermudez will fight Darren Elkins on a main card that airs on the network at 5 p.m.

Preliminary card action will also air on Fox, beginning at 3 p.m.

More MMA: Follow all of our MMA and UFC coverage online at CoveringTheCage.com and @CoveringTheCage on Twitter.

Contact Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com or 702-277-8028. Follow @adamhilllvrj on Twitter.

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