For Conor McGregor, reinvention, not rematch, the right course | Opinion
LAS VEGAS – Conor McGregor is the most important star within the historical past of MMA, and that doesn’t appear destined to vary anytime quickly.
The 20,062 followers in attendance for Saturday’s UFC 264 had been very a lot at T-Cellular Area to catch a glimpse of McGregor, a reality made evident by the variety of cell telephones within the air when he entered 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 world icon greater than full, I discover myself hoping “The Infamous” has a 3rd act deliberate as soon as he’s capable of set foot inside a cage as soon as 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 Model Sizzling Sauce within the air – appeared to recommend the longer term UFC Corridor of Famer had discovered a solution 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 combat.
McGregor’s method to combat week this time round was a lot darker, taking to social media to publish an alleged direct message request from Poirier’s spouse, in addition to promising to kill the previous UFC interim light-weight champ throughout their conflict.
It’s not the primary time we’ve heard histrionics like this within the combat 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 inexpensive imitation of himself.
Threatening to throw sizzling sauce on Poirier on the pre-fight press convention? That appeared like a much less fascinating model of the famed Monster Power tosses that passed off earlier than his notorious 2016 rematch with Nate Diaz.
Poirier, himself, stated the mystique and aura that after enveloped McGregor was gone, and the legendary trash speak 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 combat unfolded, as effectively. As he predicted, McGregor began with a gradual food plan of low kicks, and Poirier responded with huge punches on the ft, stringing collectively mixtures and touchdown clear from the beginning. When the combat moved to the grappling division, it was McGregor who took the combat 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.
Finally, a leg break ended the combat when an odd step noticed McGregor’s left leg twist in agonizing style and visibly snap below the stress of the torque. Poirier almost completed the combat 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 harm turned evident and the combat was waved off after the opening spherical.
However damage 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 full. Damaged and offended, 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 stated after the competition the combat must be run again sooner or later, although we nonetheless do not know how lengthy it should take for McGregor to get better from his damage. Poirier additionally stated he needs to face McGregor once more – whether or not or not it’s within the cage or the road – to realize actual closure to their sequence.
However an instantaneous rematch merely isn’t the correct play for McGregor, who’s now a really pedestrian 1-3 in his previous 4 appearances and is barely capable of justify huge fights primarily based on his star energy fairly than any actual meritocratic accomplishment.
Can he nonetheless pull huge numbers? In fact. McGregor has captured the world’s consideration along with his character and aptitude. However then once more, so has Jake Paul.
If McGregor is completely satisfied 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 goals of once more carrying out the sorts of feats that first created his superstardom, the 32-year-old is in determined want of wholesale modifications.
If any fighter on the UFC roster has the potential of each sleeping in silk sheets and getting off the 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 opponents 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 thought of a fourth assembly with Poirier must be shelved in the meanwhile – a minimum of if the most important famous person within the sport really has targets of being the best fighter in MMA, as effectively.
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.