Conor McGregor urged to take Nate Diaz trilogy in must-win UFC return as ex-opponent admits Khabib rematch is 'gone'

CONOR McGREGOR has been urged by his ex-opponent to fight Nate Diaz in his must-win UFC return.

McGregor is now at a crossroads after being stunned in defeat to Dustin Poirier at UFC 257 on Fight Island.

The Irishman has called for an immediate rematch, in a bid to desperately redeem himself after his comeback went up in smoke.

But as he prepares to fight for his career, Joe Duffy, the first man to beat McGregor, believes the former two-weight champion is better off against Diaz.

Duffy argues it carries less risk in a fight McGregor desperately needs to win to avoid his reputation taking detrimental damage.

He said: "Being honest if I was him, I'd take the Diaz fight first. I think it's an easier fight technically.

"Diaz doesn't improve an awful lot, as tough as he is, it's not like you're going to go out and see a different game plan.

"I think it's a better fight for him, it's probably his best bet next, then he can look at getting the Dustin fight.

"I think if it was any other fighter it wouldn't be the end of the world, but, because his stock is so high he kind of needs a win to rebound.

"If it was a boxer they'd take a tune up fight and find their feet but in MMA that's the brutality of the sport, you're in with killers all the time.

"I do feel like he needs a good fight and he needs a win if he wants to carry on his career at the top in MMA."

Heading into his eagerly anticipated UFC return, McGregor promised a performance that would strike fear into Khabib Nurmagomedov's eyes.

But UFC president Dana White later revealed Khabib – who retired in October but still has the lightweight title – was left uninspired.

So much so that Nurmagomedov has shut down any hope of making a comeback, with McGregor faced with losing his dream rematch forever.

Duffy admits The Notorious should forget all about trying to avenge his bitter 2018 defeat to Khabib, with no sign a second fight would end differently.

He said: "I think that's kind of gone, being honest I wasn't massive on the rematch anyway, especially now.

"If there was more drama in the actual fight and it was closer I'd be more interested.

"I wasn't interested in Conor and Khabib again anyway, your skills are your skills in my opinion and I thought Khabib fought great that fight.

"The Khabib fight I'm less interested in, I'd rather see him in a bit more of a tune-up fight and get a bit more confident against the better guys.

"I'd be more interested in the Diaz fight now, losing almost makes the fight more exciting."

McGregor braced Fight Island with an all new persona, a more humble and gracious fighter.

It was a far-cry from the brash and arrogant Dubliner who became the sport's biggest star within two years of debuting in the UFC.

But with McGregor's switch in characters came a loss in presence.

The megastar was less intimidating as he offered mutual respect, instead of trash talk.

So much so that he was pictured hugging Poirier at the weigh in before sharing a heartfelt moment with his two kids, Conor Jr, and Croia.

His children have certainly played a part in McGregor's reformed attitude, but a lack of time in the cage also left him far more humbled.

With just 40 seconds of activity in the 12 months before his return, Duffy reckoned McGregor looked less convincing than usual.

And for the first time in his career, the ex-featherweight and lightweight king could be questioning his confidence.

Duffy said: "He definitely looked more nervous than I've seen for a long time.

"I haven't seen him that nervous since the Mayweather fight, he looked nervous in walk in, in the octagon.

"I found he didn't have his normal swagger. But it's understandable, he's been out the game for a long time.Maybe that was a bit to it.

"I don't necessarily think it had an impact on the fight itself but maybe it goes to show his confidence isn't quite where it was."

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