The UFC kicked off their Jacksonville triple-header with UFC 249, which took place on May 9 at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in the city as they became the first major sporting event to be held in the United States since the COVID-19 lockdown.
During that event, Justin Gaethje defeated Tony Ferguson to capture the vacant interim UFC lightweight title and put himself in pole position to face undisputed champ Khabib Nurmagomedov later this year, with a title unification battle is expected to take place around September time.
A mid-week event swiftly followed on Wednesday May 13 as Brazilian light heavyweight contender Glover Teixeira defeated Anthony Smith in the fifth and final round of a punishing main event clash at the same arena.
Then, on Saturday May 16, the third show, featuring Alistair Overeem’s stoppage victory over Walt Harris in the main event, took place as the UFC completed an unprecedented week in the sport’s history to establish itself as back in business following the coronavirus pandemic.
The reaction to the events has been overwhelmingly positive, with McGregor the latest high-profile name to convey his joy at seeing his sport back up and running once again.
“UFC on again tonight! Incredible!” he tweeted on Saturday night.
“3 shows in a week without a hitch. Only the 1 team tested positive pre fight but was discovered before any risk of further contamination.
“There is light at the end of this tunnel people! For sports! For schools! For businesses! Let’s go!!”
McGregor’s own fighting status is unknown, with the Irishman still locked down in Dublin. But he expressed his desire to come back and fight behind closed doors in an upcoming UFC show, and called out lightweight rivals Gaethje, Nurmagomedov, Ferguson and Dustin Poirier in a multi-tweet rant after UFC 249.
It seems “The Notorious” is ready to get back to business, and that can only be good news, both for fans and for the UFC’s bottom line.
But despite his social media shots fired at his 155-pound colleagues, McGregor’s next bout could be at 170 pounds, according to former UFC middleweight title challenger and current ESPN MMA pundit Chael Sonnen.
Speaking to Sky Sports in the UK, Sonnen said he thinks McGregor’s immediate future lies at welterweight.
“I’m just not convinced he’s going back to 155 pounds,” he explained.
“If we’re to see Gaethje taking on Khabib, I tend to believe that just pushes the calendar out for Conor.
“I think Conor is looking for something else to do. I think that’s where Jorge Masvidal possibly comes into play, the Nate Diaz trilogy comes into play, I’m just not convinced that Conor’s next fight will be at 155 pounds.”