LAS VEGAS – Conor McGregor is the most important star within the historical past of MMA, and that doesn’t appear destined to alter anytime quickly.
The 20,062 followers in attendance for Saturday’s UFC 264 had been very a lot at T-Cellular Enviornment to catch a glimpse of McGregor, a truth made evident by the variety of cell telephones within the air when he stepped into the octagon, in addition to the amount of the boos that erupted when his opponent entered the constructing.
However along with his journey from plumber’s assistant to international icon greater than full, I discover myself hoping “The Infamous” has a 3rd act deliberate as soon as he’s in a position to set foot inside a cage once more.
Earlier this 12 months, when McGregor took on Dustin Poirier in Abu Dhabi in a closely hyped rematch of their authentic 2014 assembly, it appeared the brash Irishman was penning a brand new chapter. Respectful of Poirier as a fellow father and sportsman, McGregor went as far as to pledge a hefty donation to his opponent’s charity fund. The picture of McGregor and Poirier on the stage at ceremonial weigh-ins – embracing, the previous UFC double-champ holding a bottle of his opponent’s Louisiana Fashion Sizzling Sauce within the air – appeared to counsel the long run UFC Corridor of Famer had discovered a strategy to promote pay-per-views with out portray each conflict as a bitter rivalry.
Poirier prevailed that evening with a second-round TKO at January’s UFC 257 to arrange their trilogy battle.
McGregor’s method to battle week this time round was a lot darker, taking to social media to submit an alleged direct message request from Poirier’s spouse, in addition to promising to kill the former UFC interim lightweight champ throughout their conflict.
It’s not the primary time we’ve heard histrionics like this within the battle recreation, and it definitely received’t be the final. However maybe that’s why it sounded so unsatisfying coming from McGregor. The person who had pushed boundaries and shocked the world with every new accomplishment, from changing into the primary simultaneous two-division champ in UFC historical past to stepping out of the octagon and right into a boxing ring with all-time nice Floyd Mayweather, was now sounding extra like an affordable imitation of himself.
Threatening to throw sizzling sauce on Poirier on the pre-fight press convention? That appeared like a much less attention-grabbing model of the famed Monster Energy tosses that occurred earlier than his notorious 2016 rematch with Nate Diaz.
Poirier, himself, mentioned the mystique and aura that after enveloped McGregor was gone, and the legendary trash discuss he admittedly fell sufferer to of their preliminary assembly had now merely been decreased to “noise.”
Poirier’s confidence – and lack of any actual concern – was evident because the battle unfolded, as nicely. As he predicted, McGregor began with a gentle food regimen of low kicks, and Poirier responded with large punches on the toes, stringing collectively combos and touchdown clear from the beginning. When the battle moved to the grappling division, it was McGregor who took the battle to the ground by leaping for a guillotine choke – regardless of saying earlier within the week that he solely considers knockouts when tabulating profession wins and losses.
In the end, a leg break ended the battle when an odd step noticed McGregor’s left leg twist in agonizing vogue and visibly snap underneath the stress of the torque. Poirier practically completed the battle with strikes when he jumped on prime of his injured opponent, however referee Herb Dean allowed the motion to play out till the bell, at which level the injury turned evident and the fight was waved off after the opening round.
However harm led to insults as McGregor remained seated in opposition to the cage, medical doctors tending to his limb, and he lashed out Poirier’s spouse, calling her a “hoe” in promising that the rivalry with “The Diamond” was not complete. Damaged and indignant, yelling from the ground and leaning in opposition to the fence, McGregor appeared nothing just like the fighter who as soon as scaled that very same cage with a belt draped over every shoulder.
UFC president Dana White mentioned after the competition the fight needs to be run back at some point, although we nonetheless do not know how lengthy it would take for McGregor to get well from his harm. Poirier additionally mentioned he wants to face McGregor again – whether or not it’s within the cage or the road – to realize actual closure to their collection.
However a direct rematch merely isn’t the fitting play for McGregor, who’s now a really pedestrian 1-3 in his previous 4 appearances and is barely in a position to justify large fights based mostly on his star energy quite than any actual meritocratic accomplishment.
Can he nonetheless pull large numbers? In fact. McGregor has captured the world’s consideration along with his persona and aptitude. However then once more, so has Jake Paul.
If McGregor is glad sufficient simply printing cash – which he definitely has each proper to be contemplating he’s amassed wealth the likes of which no MMA fighter earlier than him has equaled – then he can proceed down the identical path. But when he desires of once more carrying out the varieties of feats that first created his superstardom, the 32-year-old is in determined want of wholesale adjustments.
If any fighter on the UFC roster has the aptitude of each sleeping in silk sheets and getting away from bed within the morning for a run – or wrestling follow, maybe – it’s McGregor, who seemingly has willed unthinkable realities into existence earlier than. However McGregor’s blood-red method to combating Poirier didn’t work this time round, both in or out of the cage. It didn’t work in opposition to Khabib Nurmagomedov, both.
In fact, it appears McGregor has misplaced the sting he as soon as held over rivals in two divisions, and it’s going to take various minor tweaks to get even a semblance of it again.
McGregor wants introspection proper now, not creativeness. The concept of a fourth assembly with Poirier ought to be shelved in the meanwhile – at the very least if the most important celebrity within the sport really has objectives of being the best fighter in MMA, as nicely.
It’s not too late, however the window is closing, and McGregor has a choice to make – one which hopefully is made with the athlete in thoughts, and never the enterprise, man.