UFC news, rumors: Conor McGregor eyeing July return date as fight negotiations continue

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When, where and who former UFC two-division champion Conor McGregor may fight next are some of the most prevalent questions engulfing the world of mixed martial arts at the moment. With his six-month suspension stemming from the UFC 229 brawl expiring in just a few short weeks, it's time to heat up the speculation even more. Over the weekend, McGregor did his best to add some gasoline to those flames. 

Participating in the Chicago St. Patrick's Day parade festivities on Saturday, McGregor was asked by ABC 7 whether he had anything lined up for the foreseeable future. While brief with the answer and not revealing too much, the Irishman said that negotiations are still ongoing with UFC president Dana White and Co., and that they're targeting a return fight some time in July. 

"Yes, we're currently in negotiations, we're aiming for July, we'll see what happens," McGregor said. "I am staying ready. This morning I was doing incline sprints on the treadmill on my program, the McGregorFast program, in a hotel room. So we're staying on it, getting work in as we go." 

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As for an opponent, that's still very much up in the air. McGregor has been heavily linked to a fight with Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone, but those talks reportedly hit a brick wall upon UFC insisting on slotting its biggest mainstream star of all time in a co-main event. However, reigning featherweight champion Max Holloway is moving up to attempt to also become a dual-champion if he can defeat Dustin Poirier for the interim lightweight title at UFC 236 in Atlanta on April 13. Recently, Holloway -- who lost to McGregor all the way back in August 2013 --  has been going back and forth with McGregor on Twitter, even going so far as to specifically issue a challenge to McGregor for the rematch in ... you guessed it, July. 

Before we get too deep into a McGregor return fight, though, the former champ-champ must deal with his most recent run-in with the law following his arrest for felony robbery after smashing a fan's cell phone. 

More UFC news, rumors

  • We know that UFC women's strawweight queen Rose Namajunas will defend her title against Jessica Andrade on May 11 at UFC 237 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Now we know that not only will Namajunas be making her return to the Octagon for the first time since April 2018 when she defeated former champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk in their rematch, but she'll be front and center of the card. MMA Fighting is reporting that Namajunas' defense against the No. 1 contender Andrade will indeed be serving as the main event of the fight card in Rio. 
  • Following their viral backstage altercation over the weekend in London, Leon Edwards had some words on Instagram for Jorge Masvidal. In the post (which contains graphic language), Edwards ran back his UFC Fight Night 147 victory over Gunnar Nelson before turning his attention to addressing the scuffle with Masvidal, ending with, "I'll see you soon."
  • Starting with UFC 236 in April, ESPN+ will be the exclusive U.S. distributor for early prelim bouts that are part of PPV events. The new agreement, which extends through 2025, makes the future of UFC Fight Pass even more murky.

Jack joined CBS Sports in 2018 as an editor and writer covering college football, combat sports and golf. He was raised to love the New York Yankees unconditionally since birth and firmly believes a four-team... Full Bio

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