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Conor McGregor’s next fight? He says he’s boxing Manny Pacquiao in the Middle East

Conor McGregor might not be retired from combat sports after all.

Friday, McGregor unleashed a slew of tweets which discussed fights that never materialized, then pivoted to a look toward the future. The former UFC lightweight and featherweight champion claims his next fight will be a boxing match against Manny Pacquiao in the Middle East.

“Anyway all water under the bridge who gives a fook,” McGregor wrote on Twitter. “I’m boxing Manny Pacquiao next in the Middle East.”

McGregor announced his retirement from fighting on June 7, following the conclusion of the UFC 250 pay-per-view broadcast. Since then, UFC president Dana White has largely shot down any questions about McGregor, tacking up his former double champion as “retired.”

However, White recently changed his tune when asked about McGregor.

“We’re actually working on some fun stuff for Conor at the beginning of next year. He should be back next year,” White said on ESPN’s “SportsCenter” on Sept. 17. “I’m not saying he’s coming back to fight guaranteed, but we’re talking about some stuff.”

McGregor and Pacquiao share the same management group, Paradigm Sports Management. On Friday, Paradigm CEO Audie Attar told ESPN the potential fight was recently discussed with the UFC, and characterized the promotion as being “on board,” with the idea.

In 2017, McGregor competed in his lone professional boxing match when he took on Floyd Mayweather in a major crossover pay-per-view event. Mayweather defeated McGregor by TKO in Round 10.

McGregor, 32, has not competed since January when he defeated Donald Cerrone by first-round TKO at UFC 246. Prior to that fight, McGregor’s previous bout came in October 2018 when he lost to UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov by fourth-round submission.

On Sept. 10, McGregor was arrested in Corsica, Spain for an alleged incident of sexual assault. McGregor’s team has vehemently denied the claims.

As for Pacquiao, the 41-year-old boxing legend holds a 62-7-2 record. Since he lost a May 2015 blockbuster fight against Floyd Mayweather, Pacquiao has gone 5-1. He most recently competed in July 2019, defeating Keith Thurman via 12-round split decision.

In August, one of Pacquiao’s coaches, Justin Fortune, shot down any notion McGregor vs. Pacquiao would make sense.

“Why even make that guy rich?” Fortune said. “And it won’t do absolutely nothing for Pacquiao as far as his legacy (is concerned). Remember, this is just my opinion: Manny goes down as the greatest fighter in history when he finishes because no one has done what he accomplished in boxing.”

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