CONOR McGREGOR has ‘followed’ Jake Paul’s boxing manager on Instagram – fueling speculation of a mega-money grudge match.
Paul has long named the UFC legend as his dream opponent, and once claimed to have a $50million offer for McGregor.
The Irishman still chose to largely ignore the callouts and barely even acknowledged the YouTuber-turned 5-0 prizefighter.
But now, eagle-eyed fans on social media noticed McGregor has recently followed Paul’s manager and advisor Nakisa Bidarian.
Additionally, Bidarian was the UFC’s Chief Financial Officer up until 2016 and had a front row seat for The Notorious’ meteoric rise to superstardom.
But since leaving the UFC, he has helped build Paul as a pay-per-view boxing attraction.
And despite McGregor opting against interacting with the American, Paul has insisted talks for a lucrative boxing bout have taken place behind the scenes.
He told Graham Bensinger last year: “His [McGregor’s] manager is good friends with my manager and another one of my advisors and they talk constantly about making it happen.
“They’re like, ‘Yeah we’re down, we’re about it’.”
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Despite Paul’s claim, UFC fighters are prohibited from competing outside of the MMA promotion unless given special permission.
McGregor was granted the chance to face Floyd Mayweather, 44, in a 2017 boxing crossover.
But UFC president Dana White has spent the last year feuding with Paul, leaving the polarising celebrity to doubt if he would bend the rules again.
He said: “I think Dana White is obstacle No1.
“If Dana would ever let Conor out of his contract to set up the boxing match, I think that’s what is needed to make it happen.”
Paul has already knocked out two of White’s prior fighters before, Ben Askren, 37, and then Tyron Woodley, 39.
It added to KOs over YouTuber ‘AnEsonGib’, ex-NBA player Nate Robinson, 37.
Paul initially beat Woodley on points in August and then signed to fight Tommy Fury, 22, in December.
But Fury pulled out with a bacterial chest infection and broken rib, leaving Woodley to fill in on two week’s notice, only to lose in round six.
Paul, still yet to face an opponent with professional boxing experience, later called out UFC pair Jorge Masvidal, 37, and Nate Diaz, 36.
But in an interview on former boxing trainer Teddy Atlas’ podcast, White was quick to shoot down the idea.
White said: “You notice how he wants to fight f***ing everybody that’s not in his weight class, guys that are older and all this bulls***.
“Go fight a boxer. Go hump somebody else’s leg, you goofball.”