In light of Rafael Dos Anjos being ruled out of UFC 196 through injury, we spoke to Fergus Ryan - who covers MMA for the Irish Independent and Setanta Sports along with hosting The 10 Point Must podcast with 98FM - on our daily sports podcast, The Racket:
Durig the course of the chat, Ryan revealed who he believes to be in the running to face McGregor at UFC 196 - and unlike some of the names previously mentioned - Ryan made the case for Eddie Alvarez to fight the self-marketed Notorious at a PPV event the UFC cannot afford to lose:
We lost the original UFC 196, which was downgraded from Pay Per View to being just broadcast on Fox. So if the UFC lose another PPV, they'll lose potentially hundreds of millions. Comercially, they can't afford to let this go.
There is a long shopping list of fighters throwing their hat in the ring to fight McGregor. The fans favourite would be Nate Diaz, with Cowboy is a close secod in the fan's opinion.
On merit, Eddie Alvarez is the number one contender i the lightweight division, so you think that he would probably make the most sense.
Also, Anthony Pettis' manager has thrown his hat into the ring. Pettis is a former champion, who has lost twice in a row, so he might take the chance to climb the rankings should he beat McGregor.
Alvarez/McGregor would be a fascinating match-up for Irish MMA fans in particular, given the fact that Alvarez is of Irish descent.
The last time McGregor had a Brazilian opponent pull out of a fight days in advance through injury, Jose Aldo was replaced with Chad Mendes as McGregor won an interim title before flooring Aldo at UFC 189 five months later. Ryan believes that a repeat of such an interim title unlikely:
With Jose, he had pulled out of five title fights. The UFC were drawing a line in the sand with him last July to say that 'you can't hold the belt to ransom, either you turn up and fight this guy or we move on'. I think the interim title was more to do with Jose not turning up for work.
For this one, Dos Anjos rarely pulls out of fights - this would be his first infraction - so it would be incredibly harsh to say that 'we are introducing an interim title, you need to get back fit and get back to work as quick as you can. There was such a furore over the interim title the last time, I don't think they will go down this road this time.
Ryan also introduced the mouth-watering prospect of the Dos Anjos/McGregor showdown being rescheduled for UFC 200. Listen to the entire interview on the podcast.