To call the UFC lightweight champion a 'contender' to face Conor McGregor is ludicrous and highly disrespectful. Or at least it would be if it weren't for the somewhat humorous scenes that were on show in Orlando on Saturday night.
If Conor McGregor needed any proof (he doesn't) of just how much the UFC needs him then he only needed to take a look at the post-fight interviews during the Fox Sports card. And you better believe he was tuning in. Not only did the lightweight champion, Rafael dos Anjos, 'call him out' after his impressive first round KO of Donald Cerrone but he was joined by not one but two fellow lightweights in the form of Charles Oliveira and Nate Diaz.
An entire UFC weightclass that McGregor hasn't even fought in yet, is lining up to try and engineer a fight against him. You better believe he was absolutely loving it.
Line them up on their knees with their hands out. I want them to beg me. pic.twitter.com/YCYf0QslNR
— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) December 20, 2015
But what's the best fight for his career? What's the best fight for the UFC?
John Kavanagh has as good as confirmed that McGregor will be moving up to lightweight after taking the featherweight crown. The weight cut has become too much and it was the natural progression to make. McGregor himself has been less clear, particularly about the weight cut.
He wants to fight for, and hold, both belts simultaneously. The UFC has been largely opposed to that up to now but it's unlikely they'll stand in the way of such lucrative fights if the Dubliner can come through on his promise to keep active in both divisions.
A straight shot at Dos Anjos and the lightweight belt, more than likely at UFC 198 in April, appears to be on the cards and that would certainly make sense. But would it be the best step for McGregor's career?
He doesn't need a 'handy' lightweight fight to break him in. He's a natural, average sized, lightweight. These are the fighters he should be up against, but the lightweight division might need a fight in which to break itself in to McGregor mania.
It may sound like uppity McGregor fanboy discourse but the Dubliner made the featherweight division his own by building it into something that fair-weather fans actually cared about. He might need to do the same with the current lightweight division.
Anthony Pettis needs to bounce back from losing the belt in March while Khabib Nurmagomedov hasn't fought since defeating Dos Anjos back in April 2014 as a result of injury. Outside those two and Dos Anjos, there's not amassive amount to be excited about.
It's going to be a big year for the UFC and they need to play their ace in the pack carefully. The featherweight division has become box office, literally as well as figuratively, as a result of McGregor using his mouth to build up opponents only to knock them down. He could easily do the same with the lightweight division but a straight shot at the title may not be the best way to do that.
Instead, perhaps Nate Diaz and his equally big mouth is the way to go. The trash talking would be unbearable in the build up but an April bout against the Californian would bring a hell of a lot of interest while still, for want of a better phrase, 'protect' McGregor from the best the lightweight division has to offer.
Diaz is a name to help sell the fight, but he's very much beatable and when you think that Frankie Edgar at UFC 200 in July remains the guaranteed winner, it certainly makes sense.
Edgar deserves a shot, it's the fight the fans want to see and for the landmark event it would sell close to record numbers. What the UFC don't want is McGregor going in to that on the back of a defeat. It's not what McGregor prides himself on but perhaps some clever fight selection is in order.
Some trash talking to big up McGregor's entry to the lightweight division, a victory over Diaz, Frankie Edgar at UFC 200 and then a shot at whomever is holding the lightweight belt in the latter half of the year. We're not saying it's necessarily the way to go but we're fairly sure the UFC's matchmakers are giving it a lot of thought right about now.