Why We Won’t Learn Much From Conor McGregor’s Return To The Octagon
There are certain athletes that almost become bigger than their own sport. They have the power and the reach to connect to the average person, and are known by people who couldn’t name another individual from that particular sport.
One example would be Lewis Hamilton. He has broken records on the track and is praised for his work away from F1. As a result, he is the favourite in the Sports Personality of the Year 2020 odds, which highlights his appeal. Similarly, you have Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi in football, Tyson Fury in boxing, Tiger Woods in golf, and so many more.
— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) December 9, 2020
For UFC, it’s undoubtedly Conor McGregor. The Irishman has helped catapult the sport into the mainstream, with his ferocious knockouts and remarkable personality. He may have crossed the line on more than one occasion, but he has been key to MMA bringing in a new generation of fans. It has made him rich beyond his wildest dreams, and one of the most recognizable faces on the planet. So, why is he fighting Dustin Poirier again in January 2021, having previously announced his retirement from the sport? That’s a question that only McGregor can answer.
Obviously, he doesn’t need the money, and it’s hard to say that this will add to his legacy. Whilst Poirier is a top-class operator, McGregor has already beaten him earlier in his career, so a victory isn’t going to make people value him more than they currently do.
On one hand, despite his antics, McGregor is someone who clearly loves the sport. He studies each opponent in great detail, and is a true student of the game. He loves fighting and will not back down from a challenge, so getting involved in a huge bout like this does make sense from that perspective.
However, there will be questions about the hunger of the 32-year-old. After all, he has achieved everything he set out to, making history as a multiple-weight champion in the UFC. Even defeat to Khabib Nurmagomedov hasn’t truly tarnished his legacy, everyone still knows that he is one of the best talents the sport has produced. But, if he ever had the chance to fight the Russian again, that would make sense. It would allow him to try and right a wrong.
Conor McGregor is coming out of retirement again.
He’ll return to the octagon in January for a second fight with Dustin Poirier.
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) November 20, 2020
Poirier doesn’t do that. Defeat against the American won’t ruin his reputation, but it would damage it. Boxing offers many examples of world-class individuals who carried on too long, and in some cases, it’s sad to see. Of course, at 32, McGregor is more than capable of performing for a few more years yet, but, with the Dubliner, it’s more about the mental challenge, and whether he truly has the desire to succeed having reached the top already.
Any questions will be answered on the night, and nobody would rule out McGregor securing another statement win. But, he is expected to be victorious against Poirier, so where does that leave him? What’s next? It’s hard to see what path he will take, although it’s sure to be exciting no matter where McGregor goes.