Conor McGregor is easily one of the biggest stars in any combat sport, so it's no surprise that there hasn't been a shortage of fighters who'd love to headline a PPV against him. According to a flurry of reports, one such challenger is none other than boxer (perhaps turned MMA fighter?) Amir Khan.
Who is Amir Khan?
Amir Khan is a 29 year old boxer who holds a pro record of 31-4. A promising prospect from a very young age, he became Britain's youngest boxing medalist at 17 years old when after taking silver at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games.
He went on to win the WBA light-welterweight title at 22, becoming one of the youngest boxing champions of the modern era. In April of this year, he was ranked as the 13th best pound for pound boxer in the world.
So far though, the "big money fights," as McGregor would say, have eluded him in his career. To date, Khan has only headlined one PPV event, a title fight against Canelo Alvarez in May 2016. Khan was defeated via KO in the sixth round.
Is he really going to fight Conor McGregor?
All of the rumors began shortly after Conor McGregor's UFC 200 drama, when the featherweight champ seemingly announced his intentions to retire. While he obviously did not and will be returning to the Octagon this month to face Nate Diaz, a lot happened in the weeks that followed that insane tweet.
For one, McGregor and none other than Floyd "Money" Mayweather seemed to be hinting at a boxing match. While that never panned out, talk about McGregor in some kind of boxing vs. MMA fight never stopped.
In particular, Amir Khan seems to be the one now leading the call.
Amir Khan Hints at Interest in MMA
In 2015, Amir Khan appeared on The MMA Hour to talk about his newfound love of MMA. He had recently become a co-owner and promoter of the Indian MMA organization, Super Fight League.
"I just love all the grappling and everything that happens in cage fighting and the technique and everything," Khan told Ariel Helwani.
"In a boxing fight, there's not much grappling allowed. In MMA fights, there's a lot of floor work, a lot of grappling. At the same time, I'm a good puncher myself; I'm a good boxer. So at least I've got an advantage. If I work a little bit on my grappling, you never know. I might go in the cage next."
Amir Khan Says He Likes His Chances Against Conor McGregor
A few months later, in the lead-up to Khan's PPV fight against Canelo Alvarez, he again threw a few quotes out there about MMA, this time specifically mentioning Conor McGregor.
"I've always been a UFC fan and I like McGregor," Khan told The Daily Star. "But if I was to fight the champion around 147 lbs, I would fancy my chances. McGregor or whoever."
He even added that he had done some MMA training already.
"I've already done MMA training," Khan said. "It's good for preparing to fight a guy like Canelo who likes to put the pressure on."
Amir Khan Says He Needs a Year to Train
In July, Khan appeared to be getting more serious about the possibility, stating he would "definitely" be open to a UFC fight offer, and furthermore, would only need a year to get ready for an MMA debut.
"I would, definitely [fight in MMA]. Something like that would be massive. Even if I started to train MMA next year, I'd only be 30 years old," he told Flo Combat. "I could stop and train for a full year and become a good MMA fighter. It's in our blood to fight. I've been fighting all my life, so for me, I don't think it'd be a problem for me to learn and switch over to the sport."
Amir Khan Begins MMA Training
Just a few days after that interview was published, Khan apparently began training in earnest. He posted photos of himself wearing a UFC belt in an Octagon, captioned with the message:
The photos were taken at the UFC Gym in Dubai (the first UFC Gym to be opened in the Middle East).
12 Months Turns to 6 Months
A little over a week after those social media posts, Amir Khan participated in an interview with Boxing Scene, and that "12 month" comment turned into just six months of preparation.
"I think a Conor McGregor fight would be massive. It would be a full MMA fight as I'm not scared of him," he said. "But listen I would need six months to train MMA fully and I will spend every day in the cage until I am bang on."
Amir Khan Calls Out Conor McGregor
Finally, late last month, Amir Khan seems to have formally thrown his hat in the ring for a Conor McGregor superfight. Khan added that he wanted to get into the Octagon with an MMA champion to prove he's a "real man."
"I'll go and fight Conor McGregor just to prove I'm a real man. I'm not one to back away, I've never backed away from any fight and I never will," Khan told Sky Sports. "I would definitely step into the Octagon with him. Conor, you're a big name and let's make this fight happen."
Khan added that he's still young, and has plenty of time to train in the necessary skills to become an MMA fighter.
"Even if I started to train for MMA next year, I'd only be 30 years old," he added to Sky Sports. "I could stop and train for a full year and become a good MMA fighter. It's in our blood to fight. I've been fighting all my life, so for me, I don't think it'd be a problem for me to learn and switch over to the sport."
Brendan Schaub Says He 'Wouldn't Be Surprised' If UFC Signs Amir Khan
Former UFC heavyweight Brendan Schaub weighed in on the idea on the Fighter and the Kid podcast, saying he wouldn't be shocked if Amir Khan ended up in the UFC for his debut fight.
"He has more right to fight than any of these [pro] wrestlers," he said, referring to the UFC signing 0-0 CM Punk. "I wouldn't be surprised if the UFC signs him and they do a freak match. He would sell more tickets than CM Punk. Why not?"
Schaub did add though that he does not believe Khan stands any sort of chance against McGregor in MMA.
"I think that knockout jumbled some screws loose," Schaub said. "He doesn't respect the sport if he thinks that. Conor would merc him. It's stupid. It's a different sport. ... Fight an amateur guy on the regional scene at 145, and let me know how that goes. Fight a guy who is 1-0, with any grappling, and he would absolutely murder Amir Khan. Fight a guy who won't even have a career in the UFC, wouldn't make The Ultimate Fighter ... he'd merc Amir Khan."
Amir Khan Undergoes Surgery
Amir Khan's MMA training hit a snag though earlier this month, when the boxer revealed that he has been hiding a severe hand injury for the past 13 years.
According to Khan, the medical condition has prevented him from punching at full power for basically his entire boxing career. He initially broke the hand in the quarter final bout of the Junior Olympic Games in 2003 after striking his opponent on the top of the head.
"I've only been punching with 30 or 40 per cent power because it was so bad," he told The Sun. "I kept the news of my hand injury quiet from everyone. I had to because I didn’t want any of my opponents to know about it, I didn’t want to give away an advantage.
“I remember the days when I was boxing with one hand in training but I had to keep on fighting to keep my name up and to get that experience. I had to keep going and keep my name, but my heart wasn’t in it."
Luckily, he has now undergone a two hour surgery that has apparently repaired the damage. Unluckily, he will need three months before he can return to training.
Khan did state that he hopes for a return in January, although he did not specify if he meant a boxing or MMA fight.
Has Conor said anything?
Conor McGregor has been strangely silent throughout this entire thing. He's likely completely focused on his rematch with Nate Diaz at UFC 202.
McGregor has never been shy about his interest in superfights though, as his weightclass-hopping and Mayweather-challenging history has shown. A fight with Amir Khan would certainly have a ton of crossover appeal between the MMA and boxing fanbases, and would generate a substantial level of interest with mainstream viewers as well.
Plus, it would take place in the sport where McGregor would have all of the advantages. So if Amir Khan really does end up on the UFC roster, it seems quite likely that McGregor would be very, very interested in setting up a fight.