Islam Makhachev tipped to disrupt Conor McGregor’s UFC comeback plans

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Conor McGregor’s return to the UFC could be impacted by the sudden rise of Islam Makhachev, believes former two-weight champion Henry Cejudo. The 34-year-old has not fought since breaking his leg in the first round of his trilogy fight with Dustin Poirier in 2021, spending recent weeks on set filming for the Amazon Prime remake of the 1989 action film Road House.

McGregor’s co-star Daniela Melchior posted on Instagram on Monday to confirm filming had wrapped up in the Dominican Republic, meaning he could be freed up to return to training ahead of a 2023 MMA comeback.

But the UFC has changed a lot since McGregor’s pair of lightweight duels with Poirier last year, with the breakthrough of the likes of Makhachev shaking up the food chain. Makhachev, the protege of former undisputed UFC lightweight king Khabib Nurmagomedov, soared to the top of the 155lbs division on October 20 by dethroning champion Charles Oliveira at UFC 280 in Abu Dhabi.

And former two-weight champion Cejudo believes Makhachev can take the rrown at 170lbs as well, a move which would cause significant disruption to McGregor’s plans to become a three-weight champion.

Cejudo explained of Makhachev: “I see him being a double [champion].

“Just as dominant as Khabib and I can see him becoming a two-division champion if Kamaru Usman’s not up there because I don’t think they would fight each other, but I don’t know how many years Kamaru Usman has planned.

“I know that whoever ends up snatching about 170, Islam’s next and he’s going to snatch that title too.”

McGregor has previously stated that he would like to return to the UFC to pursue the 170lb welterweight crown, currently held by England’s Leon Edwards after his stunning last-round stoppage win over Kamaru Usman at UFC 278 in August.

There are plenty of fun fights for McGregor at 170, including a box-office clash with Jorge Masvidal and a trilogy fight with Nate Daiz, although he is a free agent after beating Tony Ferguson in September.

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