Conor McGregor proved his doubters wrong with a stunning first round TKO victory over #5 ranked featherweight Dustin Poirier at UFC 178. An all-out annihilation of the Diamond, whom many of the MMA cognoscenti had pegged as a potential future champ, propelled the Notorious into the title frame.
However, there are several key featherweight clashes going down in the UFC over the next few months. Their outcomes are almost certainly going to have an impact on who McGregor's next opponent will be.
Jose Aldo v Chad Mendes
The featherweight belt will go on the line at UFC 179 on October 25 when Chad Mendes takes on the only champion in the history of the 145 lb division Jose Aldo. The undisputed champ has beaten everyone the UFC has put in front of him, including Mendes, and holds an astonishing record of 24-1 in professional MMA, The only blemish on his record came almost nine years ago.
Facing the winner of this bout will obviously be McGregor's most direct route towards claiming that UFC belt, but if Aldo loses, he will likely get an immediate rematch to reclaim the belt. Even though Aldo knocked Mendes out cold in their first bout at UFC 142, Mendes has gone on the rampage since then. Money has gone on an incredible five-fight winning streak with four finishes. He has every chance of causing an upset which could mean McGregor might have to wait for his shot at the title.
Ricardo Lamas v Dennis Bermudez
On November 15, these two featherweight contenders will go toe-to-toe at UFC 180 in Mexico. Lamas is almost the polar opposite of McGregor in terms of how he markets himself. He doesn't run his mouth or talk trash and quietly goes about his business. However, since he's already been comprehensively beaten by Aldo at UFC 169 earlier this year, a win against Bermudez is unlike'y to result in another title shot. He could step in to be that final test for McGregor before the Dubliner earns a title shot.
Dennis Bermudez is one of the hottest prospects in the UFC. Since losing his debut in the TUF 14 finale to Diego Brandao, the Menace has notched up seven straight victories inside the Octogon and has landed himself as the #7 ranked featherweight. If he defeats Lamas, an extremely talented fighter, in an impressive fashion, he might have to battle it out with McGregor in a title eliminator.
Frankie Edgar v Cub Swanson
Former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar comes into this bout at UFC Fight Night 57 coming off a dominating TKO victory over future hall of famer BJ Penn. Edgar looked outstanding against the fellow MMA legend and a win against Swanson, who has been steamrolling everyone he's been matched up recently could earn Edgar a title eliminator bout with McGregor.
You don't say someone looks like Hans Moleman without there being repercussions. A win for Swanson here would set up a grudge match against McGregor nicely. Swanson is on a six-fight winning streak and currently in the best fighting form of his career. It is incredibly to think he hasn't already gotten a crack at Aldo's belt. With the UFC almost definitely returning to Dublin for an outdoor event next summer, a main event of McGregor v Swanson would sell itself.
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