Conor McGregor could rematch Khabib Nurmagomedov as soon as next summer if he beats Donald Cerrone.
The Irishman has not fought since was choked out by the lightweight champion last year.
But he will return next month at UFC 146 when he takes on veteran Cerrone at welterweight.
And despite the fight being made at 170lb, victory could be enough to earn him a shot at the belt in the division below, despite Justin Gaethje expressing his frustration at not being given a title shot.
"Look what Conor has done over the last however many years, UFC president Dana White told ESPN.
"Then he loses to Khabib, in a fight that was you know, when you talk about bad blood, that was like next level bad blood.
"Gaethje was on his way up too. We’ve offered Gaethje a lot of fights that Gaethje hasn’t taken either. So, Conor is in line next for this fight if he beats ‘Cowboy’."
McGregor will also have one eye on stepping in to replace either Nurmagomedov or Tony Ferguson should one of them fail to make their proposed clash next April.
The rivals have been scheduled to fight four times in the past but on each occasion the fight has fallen apart.
White added: “Conor wants to fight three times this year and he’s hoping that if he beats Cowboy, he can turn right around and fight Khabib.
“That timing and math isn’t going to work out but you know Conor, Conor thinks the way Conor thinks.
"So his thing is, I’ll fight Cowboy, I’ll beat Cowboy, I’ll be ready to fight Khabib at 155 if anything happens, because we’re going into Khabib-Tony again. So in Conor’s mind, Conor would be ready for that fight.”
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