Seven fights Conor McGregor could take as he hints at UFC return including Jorge Masvidal and arch-nemesis Khabib

CONOR MCGREGOR for the first time since announcing his retirement is hinting at another comeback.

The 31-year-old Irishman seemed radio silent after walking away from the UFC for the third time in four years in May.

Even UFC president Dana White and head trainer John Kavanagh backed up the retirement claim.

But since then, McGregor revealed he still has goals to achieve before posting on Instagram a "stay ready" message.

With the rest of the UFC eagerly awaiting the moment The Notorious marks his intention to fight again, SunSport suggests five opponents he could face.

JUSTIN GAETHJE

A major factor for McGregor's retirement came after Gaethje won the interim lightweight belt and set up a unification with Khabib Nurmagomedov.

Despite being guaranteed the winner, the Irish southpaw felt the undisputed title fight would be backdated meaning he faced a lengthy spell on the sidelines.

But since unbeaten Khabib suffered tragedy after his father and coach Abdulmanap died from Covid-19 aged 57.

Promoter White insists Nurmagomedov still wants to follow through with his title defence.

But if he is unable to, it opens up the door for McGregor to fill in and face 33-year-old Gaethje with the winner unifying afterwards.

KHABIB NURMAGOMEDOV

Despite McGregor's comeback win in January coming against Donald Cerrone at welterweight, White was adamant it was enough to earn him a rematch against Nurmagomedov.

It's clear the UFC have plans to cash in on the duo's fierce rivalry, predicting it will again break box office records.

And after McGregor explained that MMA did not "excite" him currently and he was "bored" maybe only a shot at redemption against Khabib can motivate him to return.

If 31-year-old Nurmagomedov does beat Gaethje, and White still deems McGregor next in line, it will be hard for the Irishman to turn down.

He has long desired another crack at the Russian and his lightweight belt, but logic would suggest he needs an interim fight to prepare for it.

JORGE MASVIDAL

Before Masvidal challenged welterweight champion Kamaru Usman, White admitted a fight between the 35-year-old and McGregor could eclipse the Irishman's box office numbers with Khabib.

Masvidal, who stepped in on a week's notice, went on to lose on points but proved a crucial factor in UFC 251 on Fight Island selling 1.3million PPV's.

His personality combined with McGregor's would make for a thrilling pre-fight build up with their stand-up styles sure to gel – as was the case for both men against Nate Diaz.

But Masvidal poured could water on the super-fight with McGregor after insisting he would rather rematch Usman for the title.

And the UFC would prefer matching the two strikers off the back of wins, meaning Masvidal would likely need to gain momentum behind him again.

NATE DIAZ

In the rivalry which just won't go away, Diaz and McGregor are still yet to complete their trilogy, three years on from their rematch.

But with both stuck without a recognised next opponent, the time could finally be right for their elusive third fight.

Adding fuel to the fire, McGregor tweeted "shut you bitchass up" after Diaz voiced his opinion on Max Holloway's controversial loss against Alexander Volkanovski.

Masvidal had appeared eager to rematch Diaz, 35, after winning their first fight in November through a cut.

But with him now gunning for Usman again and McGregor in need of inspiration to fight, Diaz has a pathway to the Irishman.

TONY FERGUSON

If McGregor needs one win against another lightweight challenger before fighting for the belt, Ferguson acts as the perfect opponent.

The 36-year-old is one place above McGregor in the rankings, and had it not been for the coronavirus pandemic he would have fought Nurmagomedov.

Instead he faced Gaethje on late notice and after the defeat ultimately lost his shot at the belt.

Having won 12 straight only to get his title fight cruelly taken away from him, it's only right Ferguson has an opportunity to earn his place back in championship picture.

He has recently called out McGregor and their clash of personalities and exciting styles would make for a genuine PPV blockbuster.

DUSTIN POIRER

Lightweight contender Poirier is another opponent fitting to fight in a title eliminator against McGregor.

The Notorious took out the 31-year-old in just a round of their 2014 clash at featherweight, but the pair have recently traded words online fuelling speculation of a rematch.

Since the American moved up to lightweight, he has won 10 of his last 12 fights and despite capturing the interim title he was beaten by champ Khabib.

Poirier is currently the No2-ranked lightweight with McGregor two place below him.

Meaning a win for the Irishman rightfully earns him a spot next to interim champion Gaethje and lightweight king Khabib, making him the No1 contender.

ANDERSON SILVA

Before McGregor retired, he accepted Silva's call out to face him in a catchweight176lb bout.

The Irishman, who has never fought over the 170lb welterweight limit, even hinted he would face the Brazilian legend at middleweight.

Silva, at 45, is well past his prime which contrasts with McGregor who only two years ago reigned the lightweight champion.

But the Brazilian's height, reach and weight advantage makes the potential crossroads fight at least competitive in an otherwise pointless fight.

Should McGregor truly be out of options, stepping up to face the much larger but vastly fading Silva would make for compelling viewing, with their expert striking sure to please fans.

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