Conor McGregor: Proper Fighter
The UFC survived before the Conor McGregor show started, although at times it was very much touch and go, and it will survive long after it has finally ended.
When the UFC gets it right, it is for me the greatest show on earth, but a Conor McGregor fight night takes it up a to another level.
In recent times McGregor has been in the news for all the wrong reasons. Mobile phones being smashed, dolly’s thrown, and other far more serious accusations and with the defeat to Khabib Nurmagomedov on his much-anticipated return it seemingly indicated a downward spiral for the former two-division UFC champion.
But John Kavanagh’s recent comments that he is happy with McGregor’s current motivation levels, gives hope that we may see one last run for McGregor. Sadly a hand injury suffered in training has delayed McGregor’s return, but the signs are good.
Love or hate him McGregor has given us some very special moments. His fights with Chad Mendes, Jose Aldo, Nate Diaz and Eddie Alvarez were more than fights, they were something more, much more.
McGregor draws unprecedented PPV numbers, and despite the unsavoury aspects we sometimes get, he’s the type of fighter we are unlikely to see again anytime soon.
Brock Lesnar and Ronda Rousey brought the UFC to the mainstream, but McGregor has taken it to another stratosphere.
Despite everything Sugar Ray Leonard achieved in boxing, we lost much of his prime due to the missing years, time lost in retirement. McGregor has also left a lot of his prime elsewhere, but in many respects, it is somewhat understandable.
The punch perfect display in November 2016 at UFC 205 against Alvarez was probably the best version we ever saw of McGregor. The performance gave McGregor history, the first-ever simultaneous two-weight champion, but left him with little left to achieve in the UFC.
So what was he going to do next, Floyd Mayweather was tempted, he wanted or needed the cash, McGregor was the key to the vault. Some called it a heist, but the fight almost certainly robbed McGregor of his motivation, the hunger died with the millions earned.
Of course, McGregor returned last year at UFC 229, but the formidable Nurmagomedov was the wrong opponent at the wrong time. After nearly two years away it was always going to be too much, even McGregor didn’t have an answer to cage rust, not to mention the considerable skills of his opponent.
McGregor is only 30, and still has time, strip away all the material things he now has in his life, and McGregor is still a fighter at heart.
The defeat to Nurmagomedov might have lit that flame again, revenge is always a powerful tool of motivation.
But to get at Nurmagomedov again, he probably will have to go through either Tony Ferguson or Justin Gaethje, either fighter will be a serious test and will show us just how much McGregor has left.
Somebody recently said to me, we forget just how good McGregor was, and that is correct. When talk turns to who is the best featherweight ever, Max Holloway and Jose Aldo dominate the conversation. But McGregor beat Holloway on one leg and knocked out Aldo in 13 seconds.
We shouldn’t forget what Aldo and Holloway did prior and since, but we also shouldn’t forget what McGregor did to them.
But as good as he was, we need to see how good McGregor is now.
McGregor doesn’t have to fight again, but obviously he wants to add to his resume, but I worry that the time away plus his many other outside interests will restrict what he can do this time around, part-time won’t work in the modern era.
As much as I want to see more McGregor nights, a few more of those special moments, I don’t want to witness a half-hearted return, a shadow of what went before, either all in or get out.
McGregor famously once said “We’re not here just to take part, we’re here to take over” and that is the version of McGregor I want to see again, a fighter determined to reclaim his crown.
I have little interest in seeing a watered down version of McGregor, for me, I want to see another full out title run rather than do the so-called fun fights, which will add little to his already considerable legacy.
McGregor also once said: “I believe in myself so much that nothing is going to stop me.” Time will tell.