‘Conor will get the Khabib rematch… it will be the biggest pay-per-view in UFC history’ – Dana White
McGregor returns to face Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone in the welterweight main event at UFC 246 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday night.
It will be the first time The Notorious has stepped into the octagon since he was beaten at the same venue by the undefeated Khabib back in October of 2018.
McGregor this week claimed he had been "drinking all week" in the build-up to the fight against Khabib, and has made no secret he is hell-bent on exacting his revenge on the Russian, seeing his bout with Cerrone as the first step towards that goal in 2020.
The Irishman appears to have UFC chief Dana White firmly in his corner as he pursues that aim, with the promotion chief repeating his stance that a win against Cerrone would set McGregor up for another shot at Khabib.
“He’s been chomping at the bit for the Khabib rematch. I think it’s no big secret,” White told Jim Rome.
“If he wins this weekend, he’ll get that shot at the title and it will be the biggest pay-per-view ever in UFC history.”
While McGregor and White’s wishes are clear, one crucial part of the equation is not down for the rematch – and that’s Khabib himself.
The undefeated Dagestani has previously said McGregor would have to “win 10 fights in a row” to be worthy of running it back with him, calling his meeting with Cerrone a “minor league” bout.
Khabib has also previously slapped down Dana White with the riposte that “I decide who I fight.”
The Russian grappling phenom has business of his own to attend to in the form of longtime rival Tony Ferguson, with the pair meeting in a 155lbs title fight in Brooklyn at UFC 249 in April, in what will be one of the most hotly-anticipated events of the year.
But assuming he overcomes that test – and that McGregor beats Cerrone convincingly – Khabib would face mounting calls to meet his Irish nemesis again, with the lure of a huge payday to boot.
Indeed, the last meeting between Khabib and McGregor smashed UFC PPV records with an estimated 2.4 million buys.
Even in defeat, McGregor has claimed he made $50 million from the fight against Khabib, and reckons he’s making anohter $80 million from the bout this weekend against Cerrone.
While not directly verifying those figures, White suggested they are feasible.
“He’s making a lot of money… if you look at all the ancillary things that happen off a fight like this,” the UFC boss said.
“When Khabib beat Conor in that last fight, when he got back to Russia he got all sorts of stuff, then he did that Middle East Muslim tour when every sheikh down there was handing him money.
“The money that comes off a big win like this, it’s there.”
But blockbuster PPV or not, whether a McGregor win this weekend changes Khabib's mind about a rematch will be another matter entirely.