What next for Conor McGregor?
Defeat by Dustin Poirier at UFC 257 saw McGregor suffer fall to his fifth loss as a professional MMA fighter, and his third in his last six contests. But this was more than just a defeat, this was a right hook that sent him to the floor and doomed the Irishman to his first ever KO loss.
This was a man who pre fight had claimed to be raring to go and in the best place he’d ever been, and by the end of it was dazed and confused and looking like a shadow of the great fighter he once was.
McGregor was born in Crumlin, Ireland on July 14th, 1988. Aged 18 he won his first amateur MMA fight before starting his professional career with a victory over Gary Morris in March 2008. The world of MMA realised they had a star on their hands in June 2012, when ‘The Notorious’ won his first Cage Warriors Title, defeating Englishman Dave Hill. By February 2013 McGregor had signed for the UFC on a multi fight contract.
In 2015 at UFC 194 McGregor secured his first UFC Featherweight Championship, knocking out Jose Aldo in just 13 seconds, in what is still the fastest UFC title fight in history. In 2016 the Lightweight Championship followed when Eddie Alvarez was stopped in the second round at UFC 205, making McGregor the first UFC fighter in history to hold two different weight titles at the same time.
Despite three defeats in his last six fights McGregor remains incredibly popular amongst fans. In the run up to the Poirier rematch, McGregor added to his list of nicknames by calling himself ‘The Pay-per-view Monster’ and it’s easy to see why with five of the top six bestselling UFC pay-per-view events featuring McGregor as the headline act. The Irishman also holds the record for the highest PPV buys of 2.4 million when he fought Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 229.
Understandably, McGregor’s desire to get back in the cage with the world’s best fighters may not be what it once was, and no doubt led to his three previous ‘retirement’ attempts. But with his own whiskey brand plus an estimated fortune of $120 million, money is certainly not the motivation it once was.
In the Forbes 2020 Top 100 Celebrity Earnings list McGregor ranked 53rd, with an estimated $48 million, all that despite only fighting three times since 2018 and suffering two defeats.
What next for McGregor?
Dustin Poirier trilogy
UFC president Dana White confirmed McGregor’s next fight is against ‘The Diamond’ and McGregor’s camp was pushing for it straight after his defeat. A trilogy fight makes sense from any way you look at it, as fans will want to see the outcome and Dana will naturally want the juicy Pay-Per-View revenue which comes with any McGregor fight.
The Russian may be retired but bad blood remains between him and McGregor, meaning he may be tempted to return. Nurmagomedov’s feud with McGregor started in April 2018 at UFC 223 when the Irishman attacked a bus he was on. Six months later at UFC 229, Nurmagomedov defeated McGregor and retained his lightweight title with a submission victory in the fourth round, although chaos ensued with fights breaking out between the camps as the animosity continued post fight.
With a 29-0 record, Khabib has nothing to prove and everything to lose, but should it happen, McGregor would for the first time in a long while, step into the cage as an underdog. You can check out DraftKings UFC odds here on all the upcoming fights.
Nate Diaz trilogy
Diaz is returning to the ring on 15th May to fight Leon Edwards, however a possible trilogy bout with McGregor in the future has been suggested with the fighters tied at 1-1. Diaz and McGregor’s rivalry was and remains a huge draw for fans.
Rafael dos Anjos
The former UFC lightweight champion hopes he may finally get his wish this year and take on Conor McGregor. The Brazilian has twice been close to facing ‘Notorious’ in the last five years, but it never quite happened. With 30 wins to his name Dos Anjos has bags of experience, but with only 2 wins in his last 6 fights he’s not box office but may prove to be a perfect option for McGregor to regain more clout in the Ultimate Fighting world.
McGregor may decide to quit the octagon after the Poirier fight. If so, then the boxing ring could beckon, with the Irishman thought to be keen to face Manny Pacquiao, although YouTuber Jake Paul has also been floated. A Floyd Mayweather rematch cannot be ruled out however, after their first fight drew 4.3 million North American fans on PPV, the second highest total ever.
No matter what happens next Conor McGregor will always be regarded as one of the greatest MMA fighters of all time. He’s suffered defeats before, having to rebuild after the 2016 defeat to Nate Diaz and 2018’s loss to Khabib, and each time he’s come back and won, including his impressive 40 second demolition of Donald Cerrone at UFC 246. McGregor is still a formidable fighter and if he can rediscover the motivation that saw him reach the peak of his sport, he can once again prove his doubters wrong.