Dana White is prepared to consider letting Conor McGregor skip the queue for a title shot when he makes his UFC return this year, claims former fighter Chael Sonnen.
All eyes are on who champion Charles Oliveira is paired with next and he recently called out McGregor, sparking talk of a blockbuster contest on the Notorious’ return from a broken leg sustained against Dustin Poirier.
Justin Gaethje, who produced a bloody win over Michael Chandler at UFC 268 back in November, looks a natural next step for Oliveira but, according to Sonnen, a chat between Daniel Cormier and White suggests McGregor-Oliveira next is not off the table.
Conor McGregor (left) has been tipped to face Charles Oliveira (right) for the lightweight title
Former UFC fighter Chael Sonnen has claimed Dana White (middle) has refused to rule out McGregor (right) being the next fighter that Oliveira will face in the octagon
‘So Daniel Cormier… he’s having a discussion with Dana White and that topic came up,’ Sonnen explained on his YouTube channel.
‘Dana absolutely was not committing to that, ‘Yeah that’s the direction we’re gonna go and we would make that fight’.
‘But, Dana did say something on behalf of Conor McGregor which was, ‘Stop right there Daniel and everybody else that thinks Conor should not be able to fight Oliveira. Conor, from the beginning of time, has been willing to fight anybody, anytime we’ve needed him too. So if Conor’s gonna come in and ask for one, I’m going to listen to him.’ The end.’
The Notorious’ latest defeat has seen him slip down to No 9 in the UFC’s lightweight rankings.
McGregor is currently out of action after breaking his leg against Dustin Poirier last July
But much like the claims of Sonnen, McGregor’s team-mate, Peter Queally, predicted last week that the Oliveira title fight may be next for the Irishman.
‘It sounds like the belt might happen next to be honest,’ Queally told The Mirror.
‘Normally in this sport, when you’ve got two fighters that want the same thing, that’s what happens. So Charles wants this fight with Conor, Conor wants this fight with Charles and normally that’s what happens especially if there’s money to be made, which there is.’
A word of warning for McGregor is that Oliveira has won his last nine fights and dispatched of Poirier – who overcame McGregor twice in 2020 – with ease.
The man who would lose out most from McGregor getting the Oliveira fight next would be Gaethje.
Justin Gaethje (left) defeated Michael Chandler at UFC 268 and wants the next title shot
Gaethje (right) is the No 1 contender and is determined to face Oliveira before McGregor
The prospect of McGregor moving straight in for a title shot after he recovers from the broken leg he suffered in his third fight with Poirier enrages Gaethje.
The ‘Highlight’ told TMZ last month: ‘I’ll burn it all down. What do you mean? F*****g burn it down, that’s what I’d do. (McGregor) is so irrelevant.
‘He has not won a fight since 2016 in the lightweight division. I’m ranked No. 1. I saw they updated the rankings. I’m No. 1 now. That feels pretty good. My whole life I’ve been working towards this.
‘That is what’s next. If not, I’ll f**king burn it down. I’ll show up and start throwing dollies everywhere. I don’t know what the answer is.’