McGregor Set to Return to UFC on January 18th, Odds on Next Opponent

By in Sports & Betting on

The big news coming from the MMA world this week is the announcement that Conor McGregor has an official return date with the UFC. In a public statement made on Thursday, October 24th, McGregor told a gathering of media outlets from around the world that he will step back inside the octagon on January 18th, 2020.

Rumors had been swirling that McGregor would return in December. As discussed in a previous article, there were serious doubts about “Notorious” fighting in December due to the UFC 245 PPV being loaded with three world title fights and that the other two UFC Fight Night events that month were too small for someone of Conor’s PPV stature.

Sure enough, McGregor confirmed this thought process when he made the following comments at a self-promotional press conference in Moscow, Russia:

“Right now, I am building this back up. My hunger is rising. I have some news for you all, for the world here. I am not waiting around. I would like to announce the return of ‘The Notorious’ Conor McGregor will take place on Jan. 18 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.”

Immediately, all attention turned to the UFC and President Dana White to see if Conor’s public declaration held any water. White confirmed to ESPN’s Brett Okamoto that this return is happening, but there’s no opponent as of yet:

“Yes, we are targeting that date for Conor’s return but no deals are even close to being signed.”

With that said, UFC oddsmakers are already laying odds on who Conor McGregor will face in January. Let’s take a look at these odds and see if we can KO this prediction.

Conor McGregor Betting Odds

The following MMA prop bet is courtesy of BetOnline.

Who will Conor McGregor fight in his UFC return?

  • Donald Cerrone (+200)
  • Justin Gaethje (+350)
  • Nate Diaz (+400)
  • Jorge Masvidal (+600)
  • Khabib Nurmagomedov (+900)
  • Tony Ferguson (+1000)
  • Frankie Edgar (+1600)
  • Georges St-Pierre (+1800)

Donald Cerrone (+200)

“The Cowboy” is one of the UFC’s most popular and beloved fighters. He’s become a huge fan favorite for his fearlessness and willingness to take on any fighter. If any man on this list deserves a shot at a huge payday, it’s Cerrone.

Cerrone (36-13-1) has dropped two fights in a row, but is still 2-2 on the year. He’s gone 4-3 over the last two years and has fought some of the toughest men in the sport today like: Leon Edwards, Mike Perry, Al Iaquinta, Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje.

Cerrone’s last two fights were against top ranked lightweights in Ferguson and Gaethje. He lost both via TKO. Although McGregor would be a great fight, and very popular with the fans, it’s hard to put Cerrone ahead of a few other names on this list.

Justin Gaethje (+350)

Gaethje (21-2) appears to be the one man that nobody wants to fight. He’s been on a roll over the last 18 months after scoring three straight KO/TKO wins over opponents like Vick, Barboza and Cerrone. Gaethje wants a title shot or a rematch against Poirier who he lost to in April 2018.

However, he would also love a shot at McGregor. There was talk that a Gaethje fight with McGregor was in the works before Conor pulled out. McGregor even confirmed these rumors in August when he was doing interviews and trying to rebuild his brand after the backlash over Conor punching an older man in a pub.

Currently, Gaethje sits without any opponent since Ferguson and Nurmagomedov are supposed to fight for the title and McGregor will probably take a different opponent than someone as dangerous as Justin in his first fight back.

Nate Diaz (+400)

We know the history between these two men. They had a great rivalry in 2016 where they split two fights. Since then, MMA fans have been clamoring for trilogy fight. Unfortunately, both men have turned down this idea.

Furthermore, I still hold steadfast in the thoughts that McGregor wants an easier opponent than Nate Diaz. For Conor to “build this back up,” he needs an opponent that he will be the clear-cut favorite against. Diaz certainly doesn’t fit the bill.

To make things even less likely for a trilogy fight is the fact that Nate Diaz had to just pull out of a bout against Jorge Masvidal due to a failed drug test. He’s now taking to social media to blast the system and those who cheat.

It could be a while before we see Diaz again. Let’s not forget that he stopped fighting for three years before returning in August to beat Anthony Pettis.

Jorge Masvidal (+600)

Currently, Masvidal is left without an opponent now that Diaz is most likely out. That fight was highly anticipated and had already done big numbers in terms of ticket sales. Jorge is holding out hopes that the fight can still take place since Diaz hasn’t been officially suspended. Additionally, both the USADA and the UFC haven’t officially announced any failed test.

As for a fight against McGregor, there’s very little chance of that happening. Dana White has repeatedly stated that Masvidal is too big for McGregor. Masvidal fights at 170 pounds and McGregor at 155 pounds. When Conor went up to fight Diaz at the 170-pound weight class, he looked a lot smaller.

We all would love to see this clash of strikers, but I doubt that it will happen anytime soon.

Khabib Nurmagomedov (+900)

Obviously this is the fight that McGregor wants the most. He’s dying to get a rematch against Nurmagomedov (28-0) after losing to him one year ago. Conor wants to get revenge for this loss especially against a man that he despises.

Even in his press conference, McGregor alluded to wanting a rematch. It’s why he did the entire press conference in Russia because that’s the country Nurmagomedov is from. In his press conference, McGregor made the following statements about Khabib:

“For me, I wish to compete here in Moscow, Russia. We know that. This is known. We know what belt I am seeking here in ‘Mother Russia.’ The people of Russia deserve this inevitable rematch to take place here in Moscow, and it will happen. But that is the bout we want, (and) we want the bout in Moscow. The people of Russia deserve this bout to take place. The people of the world deserve this bout to take place.”

There’s nobody like McGregor when it comes to promoting a fight. To go to his rival’s home country and have a press conference is just brilliant. It’s another example of why Conor is in a league of his own when it comes to marketing and self-promotion.

Unfortunately, this rematch won’t happen for a while. Nurmagomedov will most likely defend his title in March and it’s almost certainly going to be against Tony Ferguson.

Tony Ferguson (+1000)

Speaking of Ferguson (25-3), he’s considered “the boogeyman” of the UFC. He’s won 12 straight fights and has cleared out everyone in the division except for Nurmagomedov. These two men were set to face off against each other a few times, but injuries derailed previous bouts.

Now, both men seem to be near 100% health and ready to fight each other. UFC President Dana White stated that Ferguson is at the front of the line for a fight against the lightweight champ Nurmagomedov.

Ferguson has called out McGregor in the past, but there’s no way he’s going to pass up a title shot with Nurmagomedov to take on McGregor first. A Conor fight could take place if Ferguson beats Nurmagomedov for the belt in the spring.

Frankie Edgar (+1600)

Edgar (23-7-1) has mostly competed at the featherweight division, which is 10 pounds below McGregor’s lightweight limit. However, it wouldn’t be much of a stretch for Edgar to go up in weight for a big fight. He’s also not much smaller than McGregor.

Edgar has been one of the best featherweights in the UFC, but is coming off a loss to Max Holloway for the title in July. It was an entertaining fight, but Holloway was just too big for Edgar to outstrike or get within range. Holloway also stuffed all of Edgar’s takedown attempts.

With that said, both Edgar and McGregor have publicly declared that they would fight each other if possible.

Despite the public desire between the two men, online betting sites appear to think that this contest is more of a longshot than a reality.

Georges St-Pierre (+1800)

Speaking of longshots, this matchup is a pipe dream. There’s no way GSP is coming out of retirement to take on McGregor no matter how much Conor and the UFC fans want it. St-Pierre has one fight in mind and that’s a matchup against Khabib Nurmagomedov for the lightweight title.

GSP is only interested in world title fights to enhance his legacy. Now, if McGregor were to win the lightweight belt back then maybe GSP might have some interest. With that said, the matchup style is too one-sided.

We saw what Nurmagomedov did to McGregor last year. GSP would duplicate that strategy and probably even finish the fight off sooner due to his elite grappling skills and strength. Keep in mind, GSP is a welterweight and would have to come down 15 pounds to fight McGregor.

This betting option is only for fantasy bookers and video games. There’s no chance that it will happen in real life.

McGregor’s Next Opponent Will Be…

Surprisingly, there was one fighter left off this list – Dustin Poirier. He’s been lobbying for a fight with McGregor all year long. However, Conor has shot him down every time. The two men fought five years ago and McGregor won via 1st round TKO. A fact that he always reminds Poirier of.

Nevertheless, I believe that Poirier would have a better shot at fighting McGregor in January than everyone on this list except for Edgar and Gaethje.

Of those two options, Gaethje deserves this shot with the winner taking on whomever wins between Ferguson and Nurmagomedov. That booking makes the most sense. Unfortunately, it’s not always about what is logical, but more about what Conor wants.

Other than a rematch with Nurmagomedov, which won’t happen in January, the other fight that McGregor has stated he would take is against Frankie Edgar. This is a fight that McGregor knows he can win. It’s a fight that’s still marketable enough even though Edgar isn’t in any title picture at this point.

For those who bet on UFC fights, McGregor would be a sizable betting favorite against Edgar. And, for this prop bet, Edgar makes the most sense as also offers incredible betting value at +1600 odds.

McGregor’s Next Opponent: Frankie Edgar (+1600)
Rick Rockwell

As a longtime freelance writer, avid sports fan, former athlete, and experienced sports bettor, Rick Rockwell has risen up the ranks at GamblingSites.org to become the self-professed "King of the Blog" in his first year with the site. ...

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