weather icon Partly Cloudy

Dana White says Conor McGregor could be backup plan for UFC 249

Updated January 3, 2020 - 6:09 pm

The UFC might have a backup plan in case April’s lightweight title fight between Tony Ferguson and champion Khabib Nurmagomedov falls through for a fifth time.

Conor McGregor plans to be ready to step in, assuming he defeats Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone on Jan. 18 at UFC 246 at T-Mobile Arena, according to UFC president Dana White.

“Conor wants to fight three times this year,” White told ESPN. “He’s hoping that if he beats Cowboy, he can turn right around and fight Khabib, but that timing and math isn’t going to work out. But you know Conor. Conor thinks the way Conor thinks. His thing is, I’ll fight Cowboy, I’ll beat Cowboy, and I’ll be ready to fight Khabib at 155 if anything happens, because we’re going into Khabib-Tony again. So Conor would be ready for that fight.”

Ferguson and Nurmagomedov have been booked to fight four times. They have yet to make it to the cage because of a variety of circumstances. White once said he would never attempt to book the fight again, but relented because both fighters essentially have cleaned out the rest of the division.

The bout is scheduled for April 18 in Brooklyn, New York, as the main event of UFC 249.

McGregor would be an interesting choice to step into a title bout, as he has not won a fight since November 2016 and is coming off a one-sided loss to Nurmagomedov in October 2018.

He can get back on track with a win over Cerrone, but the UFC 246 main event will be contested at 170 pounds.

White also said McGregor is interested in taking on welterweight star Jorge Masvidal, though White has been resistant.

“I think everybody knows what I think about it,” he said. “I think it’s a bad idea.

“Conor gets (upset) when I say it’s a bad idea, and he’s like, ‘You think I can’t beat Masvidal?’ I’m not saying you can’t beat Masvidal. Anybody can beat anybody on any given day, but why? Why go after that fight when you could possibly just wait?”

McGregor is apparently interested in going after the “Baddest Mother (Expletive)” belt Masvidal won for beating Nate Diaz in November, though it was never intended to be more than a one-off trophy.

Tavares out with injury

Las Vegas middleweight Brad Tavares has been forced out of his UFC Fight Night 170 bout against Antonio Carlos Junior because of a knee injury.

Tavares has lost two straight fights after winning four in a row.

UFC Fight Night 170, which features the return of women’s strawweight star Paige VanZant against Amanda Ribas, will be March 14 in Brasilia, Brazil.

‘Rampage’ felt like ‘hippopotamus’

Quinton “Rampage” Jackson appeared out of shape in his return to competition after 13 months away and was knocked out by Fedor Emelianenko 2:44 into the first round of a Bellator and Rizin co-promotion in Japan this week.

Jackson, a former UFC light heavyweight champion, tipped the scales at the heavyweight limit of 265 pounds.

“It’s all good — I’m not in a bad mood,” Jackson said. “I just know what I got to do. I got to get my damn weight down. I felt like a hippopotamus out there. But that’s my fault. No excuses. It’s all right. I’ll be back. But I ain’t coming back at heavyweight. I’ve got to lose this weight.”

PFL crowns champions

Olympic judo gold medalist Kayla Harrison led the list of six champions crowned on the Professional Fighters League season championship card Tuesday in New York.

Harrison won all five rounds over Larissa Pacheco to take a unanimous decision in the women’s lightweight championship bout.

The six winners all took home a $1 million prize.

Ray Cooper III (welterweight), Ali Isaev (heavyweight), Natan Schulte (lightweight), Lance Palmer (featherweight) and Emiliano Sordi (light heavyweight) also won their divisions.

More MMA: Follow at CoveringTheCage.com.

Contact Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AdamHillLVRJ on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Covering The Cage Videos
UFC president says McGregor-Nurmagomedov rematch is the fight to make
After Conor McGregor's first-round demolition of Donald Cerrone at UFC 246, UFC president Dana White said a rematch between "The Notorious" and UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov is the fight to make next. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
UFC 246 Ceremonial Weigh-In Staredowns - VIDEO
The UFC 246 fight card, featuring a welterweight main event between Conor McGregor and Donald Cerrone, is official, minus one planned bout. In place of Claudia Gadelha vs. Alexa Grasso, a bantamweight bout between Brian Kelleher and Ode' Osbourne will move up to the pay-per-view main card. All fighters competing on the card faced off during the ceremonial weigh-ins at The Park Theater.
McGregor: "All their eyes are lighting up when 'The Notorious' name is mentioned" - VIDEO
Conor McGregor says he knows that other fighter's eyes light up at the chance of facing him as it usually means a dramatic increase in pay. Welterweights Jorge Masvidal and Kamaru Usman spoke about why they'd face McGregor next and Donald Cerrone explained how he's affected his payday for UFC 246. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Conor McGregor says he'd be honored to be the first to fight at Allegiant Stadium
Maycee Barber Doing All She Can to Become the UFC's Youngest Champion - VIDEO
As 21-year-old Maycee Barber begins her quest to become the youngest champion in the UFC, she must first face a competitor in women's flyweight Roxanne Modafferi - a veteran of the sport who is often regarded as one of the pioneers of women's mixed martial arts. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
UFC 246- Media Day Staredowns
With UFC 246 fight week underway, fighters from five featured bouts, including the co-main event women's bantamweight contest between Holly Holm and Raquel Pennington, faced off at media day in Las Vegas. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
UFC 246 Press Conference: McGregor vs. Cerrone Highlights and Staredown - VIDEO
Ahead of their welterweight bout at UFC 246 on Jan. 18, Conor McGregor and Donald Cerrone were respectful of one another, despite having traded barbs close to four years ago at another press conference. Their bout will serve as the five-round main event at the T-Mobile Arena on Saturday. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
UFC Champ Usman "Love and Unity Does Win Sometimes"
Kamaru Usman retained the UFC welterweight title when he knocked out Colby Covington in the fifth round of their title bout at UFC 245. After a heated lead-up to their bout, Usman says sometimes love and unity wins. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
UFC 245 Ceremonial Weigh-in Staredowns
Here are the staredowns from the ceremonial weigh-in featuring all fighters competing at the UFC 245 fight card on Dec. 14 at the T-Mobile Arena. There are three title fights on the main card with the main event featuring a middleweight title bout between Kamaru Usman and Colby Covington. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal).
Kamaru Usman explains the origin of the Colby Covington rivalry ahead of UFC 245
Ahead of their welterweight title fight, division champion Kamaru Usman explains where the rivalry with his opponent, Colby Covington originated and discusses what he thinks about the challenger's persona. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Covington: I enjoy the boos, that gives me extra inspiration
UFC welterweight title challenger Colby Covington discusses his upcoming fight taking place on Dec. 14 at the T-Mobile Arena against Kamaru Usman and says he is fueled by those who boo him at events. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)