UFC star Conor McGregor said the much-hyped fight against Filipino boxing legend Manny Pacquiao is “almost a certainty” this year.
McGregor is set to return in the Octagon on Sunday for a rematch against Dustin Poirier in UFC 257, and talks about the Pacquiao boxing match will soon resurface after the UFC comeback.
“It’s almost a certainty,” McGregor told Sportsnet’s Arash Madani as reported by boxingscene.com. “I’m hearing there’s a contract and all coming… it’s that close. We haven’t [spoken yet] but it should happen in 2021.”
Audie Attar of Paradigm Sports Management, who handles both McGregor and Pacquiao, earlier said the clash between the two fighters is indeed “inevitable” for this year.
Attar also disclosed that he had met with UFC management and came to an agreement that the Poirier rematch should kick off first before McGregor gets a chance with Pacquiao.
In a separate interview with BT Sport, the Irish mixed martial arts icon said he is “keeping his options” open as far as his fighting career is concerned.
“The talks have been intensifying. There are behind-closed-doors talks. Let’s see how it goes,” said McGregor , who last saw action in the Octagon with a 40-second stunner against Donald Cerrone last January.
“I would like my UFC career to get going, I am going to put a stint into this 155-pound division, a correct proper run at it, exactly like I did to the featherweights and maul every single one of them, no messing, full focus, show them what’s what.”
But the 32-year-old MMA hotshot is not about to forget the eight-division boxing champion from the Philippines.
“The Manny and the little treasure chests that are there, I’ll keep them there for sure and I am ready for them also. Let’s see what happens.”
In the boxing ring though, McGregor lost to Floyd Mayweather in “The Money Fight” after a 10th round technical knockout in August 2017.
The 42-year-old Pacquiao, who scored a split decision victory against American Keith Thurman in July 2019, also suffered defeat at the hands of Mayweather in 2015.