CONOR McGREGOR has been tipped to remain at welterweight for his next UFC fight – opening the door to face either Nate Diaz or Jorge Masvidal.
The 31-year-old Irishman marked his UFC comeback in January win a 40 second win against 37-year-old Donald Cerrone, but did so at 170lb to avoid a gruelling weight cut to lightweight.
He has since focused on the lightweight belt, but faces being frozen out of the picture after Justin Gaethje, 33, won the interim strap to set up a unification with Khabib Nurmagomedov, 31, – who beat McGregor in 2018.
With the champion and No1 contender otherwise occupied, former UFC middleweight Chael Sonnen believes the most profitable and favourable move for McGregor is to stay at welterweight.
It leaves him with the option to face Diaz, 35, for a third time – with the pair one apiece – or fight Masvidal , also 35, for the 'Baddest Mother F***er' belt.
Sonnen told Sky Sports: "I'm just not convinced he's going back to 155lb. 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 155lb."
UFC boss Dana White wants unbeaten Khabib to face Gaethje for the undisputed crown in September, with McGregor also returning, and should the southpaw win, he will be next in line for the lightweight belt.
The Notorious became the first fighter to hold two titles at the same time, and wants to make history by becoming a three-division champion.
And Sonnen argues McGregor is the rightful No1 contender for Kamaru Usman's welterweight title, which Masvidal was in talks to challenge for.
He said: "I think he's going to fight at 170. I think you could have an argument that Conor is the No 1 contender at 170.
"If they sort Usman and Masvidal, and I hope they do, I hope that all gets worked out, we're just seeing the gamesmanship, I'm think that's really the right fight to do, I'm not sure you can't say Conor's not next in line.
"There's a number of good arguments. Leon Edwards comes to mind, you've always got T-Wood (Tyron Woodley) in there, Colby Covington, Conor's name is just as good as anybody I just threw out."
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