Conor McGregor will make his highly anticipated return at UFC 257 on January 23 in a rematch against Dustin Poirer, but the Irishman still has his eyes set on Manny Pacquiao.
McGregor seemed optimistic about the possibility of a fight with the eight-division world champion and current Senator of the Philippines Pacquiao happening in 2021.
“I know the talks are intensifying for this year,” McGregor told The Mac Life (h/t MMAJunkie). “So I am excited for a Manny Pacquiao bout, and it’s looking like it will take place this year. What time this year, I’m not sure. We’re going to have to have some good discussions with Dana and with the guys and the UFC after (UFC 257) and see where it goes, what’s there, what do we want. I am open to it all. I am ready for it all.”
McGregor hasn't competed in a year after the COVID-19 pandemic derailed his hopes for a busy 2020, last defeating Donald Cerrone in just 40 seconds at UFC 246. With a new opponent and new year, the former UFC lightweight and featherweight champion is focused on reclaiming his throne atop the 155-pound division but also has his sights set on making a return to the squared circle.
Convincing UFC President Dana White to get onboard remains a big obstacle in the way and if a Pacquiao versus McGregor fight is to materialize, it will ultimately need White's sign-off. However, the matchup seems to be building some real momentum toward becoming a reality.
McGregor's manager Audie Attar has told multiple media outlets about his belief in the fight happening, even saying it's "inevitable for 2021." WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman also added to the hype of the fight becoming a possibility, saying recently he believes the UFC star would only need one win to get a boxing world title shot. McGregor responded to the comments from Sulaiman during the chat with Willis.
“I appreciate the comments from Sulaiman and, you know, I’ll certainly attain a boxing world title before I call it a day,” he said. “And I would be very excited to do it against Emmanuel Pacquiao.”