Dan Hardy has implored Conor McGregor not to fight Manny Pacquiao and instead stay with the UFC and regain his lightweight world title.
‘The Notorious’ returns to action on January 23 at UFC 257 when he faces off against Dustin Poirier on Fight Island.
Dan Hardy wants to see Conor McGregor stay and fight in the UFC lightweight division againGetty – Contributor
McGregor, who has not fought since his emphatic stoppage of Donald Cerrone at UFC 246, promised MMA fans a season in 2020.
However, owing to the pandemic and a host of other factors, the Irishman fought just the once in the calendar year and decided to retire in June. But with the division left wide open after Khabib Nurmagomedov’s retirement, McGregor has timed his return perfectly.
Due to his superstar status, there are no limit of potential opponents to be had after Poirier and his willingness and desire to fight anyone at any time or weight makes him so compelling and watchable.
But with a return to boxing mooted for the first time since 2017 when he faced Floyd Mayweather, Hardy told talkSPORT.com it would be a travesty if the Irishman did not stay and fight some of the best in the world at 155lbs.
McGregor and Manny Pacquiao share a former foe in Floyd MayweatherGetty Images – Getty
It would be a huge shame,” he said. “Especially given the fact that the belt is, as far as we know, vacant. So that is hanging in the mix ready for someone to grab.
“Conor is the ideal man to get that belt around; not only for the benefit of the sport, but the division as well. Every contender coming up to challenge that belt would be coming into a limelight like they have never experienced before.
“You could put Conor in there against any of these guys and they are all fun fights! Some people would still like to see the Khabib fight again.
“But I would like to see McGregor in there with Tony Ferguson, a Justin Gaethje or a Charles Oliveira – we are spoilt for choice in this division.
McGregor and Poirier will meet in a rematch of their 2014 fight at UFC 257Getty Images – Getty
“Nate [Diaz] is coming back to 155lbs, maybe we can get the trilogy. That is what to do, who wants to see him fight Pacquiao?
“It would be fun to watch him spar maybe, but there is nothing to be gained from it besides a bit of pocket money.
“And Conor is the last person that needs pocket money!”
The return of the 32-year-old will also coincide with the return of fans to the UFC for the first time since March 7 when Israel Adesanya defeated Yoel Romero.
The first fight at UFC 178 failed to make it out of the first roundGetty Images – Getty
A limited number of spectators will be inside the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi to witness the rematch between Poirier and McGregor and Hardy struggled to contain his excitement at the thought of fans returning.
He continued: “It’s amazing; I mean it has changed the sport by being in these empty arenas. The first empty event was March 12 in Brasilia and it was just odd!
“The whole thing was strange because everyone was expecting there to be an event and then all of a sudden it was cancelled. So it became a compromise to move forward without a crowd even though no-one really wanted to.
“But as it has progressed, it has been quite interesting as it gives you much more of an intimate feel to the fights. Obviously this one is going to be different again as it’s not going to be like a normal crowd.
Charles Oliveira is one of the most dangerous lightweights in the world right now2020 Buda Mendes
“They will all social distance, there’s massive sheets of Plexi-Glass so there’s even stuff to keep us separate in the arena so it won’t be like a normal McGregor fight where everyone is throwing Guinness all over one another!
“But it’s going to be nice to have some noise back in there because a lot of these fights on this card – especially the early ones – there are going to be some wars and you kind of want the fans in there for it.”
BT Sport Box Office will show UFC 257: Poirier vs. McGregor 2 exclusively live from 3am on Saturday 23rd January. UFC 257 can be watched on on BT TV, Virgin TV, Sky, online via the web or the BT Sport Box Office App and is available to buy at www.bt.com/sportboxoffice
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