Conor McGregor is gearing up for a fight with Dustin Poirier this coming Saturday in the main event of UFC 257, his first UFC bout in over a year since beating Donald Cerrone on January 18, 2020.
While the one-time pound-for-pound king wants to re-establish himself in the Octagon as one of the lightweight division’s best, he can’t help but also have one eye on a big-time fight with former multi-division boxing champion Manny Pacquiao. Pacquiao hasn’t fought since July 2019, when he won a split decision against Keith Thurman to retain the WBA super world welterweight title, and has been eyeing two 2021 fights. Errol Spence Jr. and Terence Crawford have both made pushes to get in the ring with the Filipino star, but the massive box office draw of a McGregor fight would likely be too good to pass up.
McGregor confirmed this week that a fight is “almost a certainty” and “should happen in 2021,” with it nearing the phase of contracts being drawn up, via an interview with Sportsnet.
“It’s almost a certainty,” McGregor said. “I’m hearing there’s contracts and all coming. It’s that close. So, I don’t, I haven’t spoke — it should happen 2021. Like I said I want to get my MMA game going a bit more as well. Look, I’m fighting Poirier who’s a southpaw, Manny’s a southpaw. I’ve been fighting professional boxers in the gym, sparring with southpaw boxers in the gym in preparation not just for Dustin but for Manny. I’ve had shorter, 5’5 rockets coming at me, you know what I mean.”
The question seems to be when, not if, McGregor and Pacquiao step in the ring. One would think the two would want to wait until they can do it in front of the biggest possible live crowd because they would surely sellout most any arena they wanted — even if we already saw how McGregor fares in a boxing ring with an elite talent in the Floyd Mayweather fight. That would likely mean a fall date, which could have Pacquiao look for an April or May date with Spence or someone else and McGregor schedule another UFC bout in the spring/summer.