Conor McGregor has plenty of reasons to be interested in Saturday’s UFC 249 headliner between Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje. Not only will the bout detail the immediate landscape of the UFC’s 155lb fold, it may well provide some clarity as to the identity of McGregor’s next opponent – but according to Audie Attar or Paradigm Sports Management, his client wants to observe the UFC’s safety protocols put in place during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Conor is very curious to see whether the health and safety of the athletes and staff are ensured,” Attar said via ESPN. “He wants to make sure everyone is taken care of properly.”
Saturday’s fight card from Florida has been under significant media scrutiny since it was announced. The UFC has implemented a series of health and safety protocols, such as limiting the amount of cornermen who have access to fighters and making sure that each combatant is given the necessary space to prepare in relative isolation.
Critics, however, maintain that the event comes with an unnecessary amount of risk – something which Attar says McGregor is wary of.
The Dubliner had been linked with a July return date, though Attar says that he isn’t so keen on fighting in an empty arena, but says he would be willing to ignore that if he was able to provide entertainment for the legions of fight fans stuck in their homes and observing social distancing.
“While Conor’s desire would be to fight in front of another sold-out crowd, he does understand what him fighting in an empty arena could do for people at home and would consider if he is comfortable with the way the UFC is holding these events from a health and safety standpoint,” Attar said.
A July return date would align neatly with that of UFC champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, who said this week that he would also be available to compete in July.
“I can fight anytime – Ramadan finishes May 23,” the Russian champion said. “July I’m gonna be ready.”
A Khabib-McGregor rematch remains the biggest possible bout that the UFC can hold this year such is the unique global interest in the two lightweight standouts, and a showdown on White’s ‘Fight Island’ would certainly be a memorable second chapter in their storied rivalry.
For that reason, and a multitude of others, one expects that Dana White will be hoping that Saturday’s show proceeds without a hitch. The possibility of what would be the most-watched fight in the organization’s history might depend on it.