Where next for McGregor?

Tonight's a big night for the Irish fighter

Conor McGregor, UFC, Ireland,

Image: ©INPHO/Cathal Noonan

In the early hours of Sunday morning, Conor McGregor will enter the Octagon in the MGM Grand with his future career path in his famous hands.

A win over Jose Aldo, will mean McGregor's bank balance will get a healthy injection of funds. What remains unclear is what will happen if McGregor loses his first fight in over five years.

We look at some potential scenarios that may happen in Las Vegas and what they may hold for the 27-year-old's future.

A decision win for McGregor

In the Dubliner's 20 fight career, he has only entered the third round once. That was in his second fight in the UFC, where he defeated Max Holloway by a majority decision. If he is to go the distance against Aldo, that fight will last 25 minutes in five rounds of five minutes. There are two distinctive types of winning on the judge's scorecards. You could win convincingly, or you could not.

If McGregor wins and dominates the fight convincingly on the judges scorecards, would Aldo want a rematch? As an unbeaten champion in the UFC, Aldo will be entitled to a rematch no matter what happens. We have seen Ronda Rousey being granted an immediate rematch with Holly Holm after her loss last month in Australia.

A knock-out/submission win for McGregor

16 of McGregor's 18 wins have come by knock-out, with a solitary submission win in 2012 against Dave Hill. All indications point to that if McGregor is to win, it will happen with a referee's stoppage. If he does win, his future may be decided by what happened before the moment of victory.

As previously mentioned, Holly Holm defeated Ronda Rousey last month to become a UFC Champion. Holm's performance was so dominant before her second round victory, that many wondered whether Rousey would want a rematch. If McGregor's performance is at the same level of Holm's demolition of Rousey, we may be in a position where Jose Aldo retires. A training partner of his has already stated that he expects the Brazilian to retire after the fight as champion.

If McGregor does win, Dana White's eyes will light up with the thought of a homecoming event for McGregor in either Croke Park or the Aviva Stadium. It may beat the UFC attendance record of 56,214 that was set earlier this year.

A decision win for Aldo

While all the previous talk has been about a McGregor victory, we must not forget about his famed opponent. Jose Aldo has lost once in his 26 fight career and it happened over ten years ago in November 2005. Aldo's experience in the "Championship rounds" may be to be his advantage. Six of his last nine fights have gone the distance and all were unanimous on the judge's scorecards.

If the Brazilian wins convincingly, McGregor should not be entitled to an immediate rematch. Such has been Aldo's domination of the division, that his two likely opponents are men he has already beaten. Frankie Edgar will now fancy his chances against Aldo following his win. McGregor will have to rebuild his reputation and it may start with fighting the loser of that bout.

If the fight is a close affair, there will be pressure for a rematch between the two men. McGregor has captured the American public's imagination. Whether that lessens with a loss, remains to be seen but there would be an appetite for a rematch with both men, bringing international markets to the table.

A knock-out/submission win for Aldo

This is McGregor's worst scenario. Four of Aldo's previous ten wins have come by knock-out, while his previous submission win came in 2005. As with McGregor, all sense points to a knock-out, should he win inside the distance. If Aldo is to dominate McGregor in a way we have not seen before, it will be hard for McGregor to push for a rematch. Despite the Dubliner's reputation and popularity, he should only receive the rematch if he is entitled to one.

A draw

Depending on how you look at this, it may be a dream or nightmare scenario. A rematch would be in the works, with Las Vegas the probable venue. This rivalry may easily last another six months.

An Aldo retirement

As mentioned previously, Andy Souwer has spoken about how Aldo may retire after this weekend's fight. If so what happens to McGregor and his future?

First of all a lot depends on the result. If McGregor wins, he will ride into the sunset and probably face Edgar next summer. If he loses what will happen to the title?

Recent precedent shows that Daniel Cormier fought for the vacant Light-Heavyweight title after losing a title bout in his previous fight. Jon Jones was stripped of his title following a hit-and-run incident and Cormier stepped in to fight and beat Anthony Johnson. That may point to McGregor fighting for the vacant title against Edgar.

McGregor moves to Lightweight division

When he fought in Cage Warriors, McGregor was a champion at Featherweight and Lightweight. He has already stated he wants to do the same in the UFC. Whether he wins or loses, he may decide he has done enough in the Featherweight division. A "Champion v Champion" fight against the winner of the Rafael dos Anjos-Donald Cerrone fight may be an option for the Dubliner. If he loses, he may look at fighting a star that is ranked in the top five such as Anthony Pettis or Eddie Alvarez.

Whatever happens to McGregor this weekend, there are plenty of options for "The Notorious" in 2016. Win or lose, he will still be one of the biggest names in the UFC. Plenty of fighters will want to be associated with the McGregor stardust and he will look to continue what has been a remarkable two and a half years inside the UFC Octagon.