UFC featherweight Conor McGregor has been something the division has needed and craved to bring them to the next level.

Featherweight champion Jose Aldo isn’t a guy who will talk a lot of trash. Even though he is an amazing fighter with dazzling striking skills, he doesn’t tend to attract fans. McGregor, on the other hand, is that guy.

Among 145-pounders, McGregor is a fighter who can draw in a crowd by talking. Then, he can completely back up the talk with his performance in the fight. Despite a resume that isn’t exactly filled with top featherweights, he has dispatched those he has fought in great fashion and turned himself into a fringe top-10 featherweight in the UFC. Marcus Brimage and Max Holloway aren’t top-five featherweights, but they aren’t slouches either, and McGregor dominated them.

The 25-year-old Irishman is completely relevant in the division, despite his year-long layoff. The trash talk, the self-promotion and his recent fights have made him a fighter who is hard to ignore, and it’s turned him into a threat to the top-10 fighters. Furthermore, McGregor has the skills to make any fight exciting.

McGregor’s next fight has the potential to be an action-packed bout. He takes on Diego Brandao, another fighter who can throw leather, in the headlining contest of the UFC’s Fight Night event in Dublin, Ireland. The fight with Brandao could be what he needs to crack the top 10, and the fan support in Ireland should only go to bolster his UFC stock.

However, McGregor hasn’t paid his dues yet. The UFC needs to capitalize on its biggest star from Ireland. McGregor is already set to headline the Dublin card, but the UFC’s next goal, assuming McGregor sticks to his winning ways against Barao, should be to pair the former two-division Cage Warriors champion with another significant name from its roster.

If McGregor makes it through Brandao, the UFC should pit him against Cub Swanson. The fight could headline yet another Dublin card, or even a European card. That fight not only has potential to be a title eliminator, but it has awesome written all over it.

Superlatives wouldn’t do that fight justice, as Swanson and McGregor are among the most exciting fighters at featherweight outside of Aldo. The two would create a seismic collision so great, everybody would have to take notice. There’s also the added benefit of the brewing feud between the two rising stars, who haven’t been shy about trading barbs.

There is nothing the UFC can do at the moment to capitalize on the buzz McGregor has generated thus far in his UFC career. However, even while injured, McGregor has not allowed MMA fans to forget about him. The UFC could come out huge here if McGregor was able to dominate Brandao like he has others in his UFC career. If McGregor can do that, he would generate a ton of attention in the featherweight division. If Chael Sonnen has taught us anything, it’s that you can certainly talk your way into a title fight, and McGregor seems to have taken that lesson to heart.

McGregor shouldn’t jump the line ahead of guys like Swanson. He should fight at least one more time before potentially challenging for the belt, and that fight with Swanson would be too perfect for the UFC to pass up. Both fighters have entertaining styles, but they have also captured the imagination of the fans. Swanson’s amazing career turnaround has provided a narrative that makes him a very marketable featherweight, and McGregor’s mouth and his performances inside the Octagon have allowed him to move into a similar position. Both men have the attention of MMA fans, and a battle between the two fighters is a perfect setup for a potential bout between the winner and Aldo.

Brandao is McGregor’s next step. The Irishman has a chance to put in another entertaining fight against a dangerous opponent and move one step closer to the ultimate prize. If McGregor wants to fully back up his trash talk, he needs to not only take out Brandao, but whatever fighter the UFC throws in his path next. Swanson should be that man.

  • irishbrother

    Mcgregor and Swanson would be a great fight an all,but first things first,Diego aint no slouch,lets see how the fight pans out,my opinion is Mcgregor will matador Diego