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Dana White orders Conor McGregor to defend UFC lightweight title vs Tony Ferguson in return to Octagon

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A trilogy with Nate Diaz had been rumoured after the Notorious was knocked out by Floyd Mayweather in August

Conor McGregor has been ordered by UFC president Dana White to defend his lightweight title against Tony Ferguson next in his return to the Octagon.

The Notorious is recovering from a beat-down at the hands of Floyd Mayweather in his boxing experiment this summer but is now set to resume his MMA career.

A rubber match with Nate Diaz had been rumoured after the pair won one apiece in their thrilling fights together.

But White insists it will be Ferguson instead and that it "has to happen next" with a meeting possible before the end of the year.

"Nobody's talked about Diaz," White admitted. "Diaz has never been talked about. That's internet bulls***.

"Tony's the interim champion, Conor's the champion, that's the fight that makes sense. It's the fight that has to happen."

The 33-year-old has worked his way into a position to take a shot at the Irish superstar and looks to have confirmed a fight by defeating Kevin Lee with a third-round triangle choke submission on Saturday in Las Vegas.

After his victory, Ferguson goaded McGregor to "defend or vacate" and White believes he will get his wish with McGregor eager to return in the coming months.

"He [Mcgregor] wants to fight again this year," White revealed. "He [always knew that] so he went and partied in Ibiza for a while, went back home for a while, you gotta let him blow off some steam and then figure it out.

"Tony's a busy guy. He keeps coming forward, he keeps throwing all kinds of different things at you. And Conor's awesome. There's no way that's not a great fight. Impossible."