Does MMA Need Conor McGregor? | UFC | Conor McGregor | Charles Oliveira


Conor McGregor has aimed for a return to the Octagon, as he looks to fight for the first time since breaking his leg last summer. ‘Notorious’ returns to a strange and unknown landscape in the world of combat sports. Having lost his last two fights, the Irishman is no longer considered one of the best in the world. The rise of Jake Paul and the celebrity boxing phenomenon has also altered McGregor’s reality, with the influencer usurping his position as the most controversial fighter on the planet. There was a time when it was Conor McGregor’s world, but now the 33-year-old lives there.

Never the type to do things halfway, the owner of the Proper No.12 whiskey called out UFC lightweight champion Charles Oliveira. The fight would make financial sense, with McGregor being the biggest pay-per-view in UFC history. Naturally, Oliveira is enthusiastic. But MMA differs from boxing in the way it chooses his title fights, and McGregor is only ranked ninth in the UFC lightweight standings. The former two-weight world champion has also won only one fight since 2016. While a McGregor v Oliveira showdown would do monster box office deals, it would undermine the company’s ranking system for allow that to happen.

That didn’t deter McGregor from trying to make the game exist. When Oliveira posted a photo of himself posing alongside footballer Neymar, McGregor took it with his usual grace and humility. Just kidding, the Irishman also called out Neymar, threatening to “smoke” the Paris Saint-Germain forward. While this is undoubtedly fair for the show, a classic McGregor PR move, it hints at a gravy train the “Notorious” has missed in recent years.

Conor’s 2017 crosscode clash with boxer Floyd Mayweather was a PPV juggernaut and dominated fighting discussions for almost an entire year. McGregor put in a commendable effort in the centerpiece, but the athletic merits were almost secondary. What this fight proved is that people were happy to pay to watch non-boxers compete in the square circle, as long as the hype was strong. McGregor said there would be more to him in the larger world of combat entertainment. He teased a fight with Manny Pacquiao that ultimately never happened. There were also lingering rumors of a WWE turn, which also never came to fruition.

Instead, McGregor was usurped on both counts. Heavyweight champion Tyson Fury has entered a WWE ring before him, filling the quota of controversial legitimate sports athletes in that arena. The YouTube community descended on the idea of ​​celebrity boxing that McGregor popularized with Mayweather, as Logan Paul, his brother Jake, and KSI began to settle social media disputes in the ring.

This cottage industry has now grown to the point that some casual observers view Jake Paul as a legitimate boxer, despite his 5-0 record against YouTubers, basketball players and retired UFC fighters. The competition element is not important, money and weight are king. These are two things Conor McGregor holds dear, but he seems to have missed the boat. While his old rival Mayweather saw the lay of the land and ended up winning millions for a soft spar with Logan Paul, Conor was slower to embrace.

It’s eerie to see a lukewarm McGregor sitting behind the curve, staring inactive as a generation he’s influenced with his self-assured charisma and wealth-obsessed character steals his old spotlight. There are return paths for the 22-6 star. The road to UFC legitimacy might be the most difficult. McGregor has lost three of his last four fights, and it feels like the sport is advancing without him at least inside the Octagon, although his name will always carry considerable financial success.

Joining the celebrity boxing circus could actually be the way back. When McGregor makes headlines these days, it’s rarely to challenge his fellow fighters. “Notorious” makes the headlines when he calls out to Neymar, gets into a fight with Machine Gun Kelly or comments on the activities of a brother of Paul. By tearing a page out of Jake’s playbook and contesting a series of thoughtfully chosen and carefully marketed clashes with social media stars, celebrities, or overwhelmed athletes, McGregor could break PPV records through his forties.

How McGregor approaches this crossroads will say a lot about the man who became the first fighter to hold UFC titles simultaneously in two separate divisions. If he chooses to move forward in the Octagon, his skills will be tested like never before, especially against Oliveira. If McGregor is truly on the decline as a fighter, he risks being brutally exposed. If he’s victorious, he joins the conversation as one of MMA’s modern greats. The road paved by Jake Paul does not bring such legitimacy, but will ensure that McGregor’s name never makes headlines and that his bank balance is never less than astronomical. For a number of enthusiasts, McGregor vs. Jake or Logan is their dream fight. Responding to this subset might be the wisest course of action. Fighter or superstar? It’s time for Conor McGregor to make a big decision.

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