Conor McGregor has taken step closer to a multi-million dollar boxing showdown with Floyd Mayweather Jnr after being granted a Californian boxing licence.
The Dubliner is not expected to fight again until May 2017 at the earliest, having announced his decision to take a break until after the birth of his first child. But whether that return takes place in the Octagon or in a boxing ring remains to be seen.
Throughout 2016, McGregor and Mayweather have teased the fighting world over a bout that would surely become the richest in combat sport history. While Mayweather appeared to suggest in September that opportunity to make it happen had passed, McGregor's camp insist they are still very interested in the scrap.
Now qualified to box in the state of California, McGregor has taken another huge step in making the dream fight a reality.
Andy Foster, California State Athletic Commission executive officer told MMAFighting.com: "He got a licence today and a federal ID. He's a California boxer now. He is qualified.
"I'd love to see him fight in California. It just needs to be the right opponent. Certainly a highly-level opponent. We are happy to license him. We're happy he's a California fighter."
Mayweather retired from boxing with a professional record of 49-0 after defeating Andre Berto in September 2015. He has since immersed himself in promoting other fighters fighting under the Mayweather Promotions flagship.
Having initially claimed a meeting with McGregor "was possible", the 38-year-old then calmed the growing mania in an interview with Fight Hype in September, admitting talks had taken place but had amounted to nothing. He added he would now "move on".
Amid the speculation, McGregor has actively sought to improve his boxing game. According to his coach John Kavanagh, the Irishman could potentially bring boxing trainer Paschal Collins – who trains Gary O'Sullivan and Stephen Ormond – in to sharpen his skills for future MMA fights or elsewhere.
Earlier this week, McGregor was stripped of his featherweight title, a decision that has exasperated the fighter's camp.