You may have heard that the former two-division UFC champion Conor McGregor is fighting again? Well, unless you have been offline in the jungle or desert somewhere. MMA’s biggest draw finally makes his long-awaited return to action against former top contender Donald Cowboy Cerrone at UFC 246.
While McGregor had been hinting at his return for some time. It wasn’t until he signed his name on the dotted line that we knew for sure who would be next on his red panty list. And in Cerrone, we have a taker who is more than happy to welcome him back to the world stage, and no doubt the biggest payday of his record-breaking career.
Conor, as we are well aware has been the biggest star in the sport, even while his career was on hold. And the announcement that he has finally decided to step back into the lion’s den at UFC 246 is no doubt a huge relief to the UFC brass and his remaining fanbase.
I say remaining as a lot has changed in a short time. McGregor went from the ultra cocky, fast-talking fighter that backed up his words with actions, winning him two consecutive UFC titles in the process. Then between the accolades and world tours, the huge payouts from his historical crossover fight against Floyd Mayweather. Somewhere in amongst all that madness, he became lost.
Going from the darling of Irish MMA to being reviled and ridiculed by many. This period in his life has seen a very public and disorderly meltdown. It’s been recorded and documented, analysed and archived, case closed? For many, we thought that was it, the end. Like so many great athletes that came before who achieved such great heights in their chosen craft, only to throw it all away. Is it just human nature, are we meant to have it all than lose it, only to realise what we had in the first place?
Redemption Is Something You Have To Fight For
And now at the beginning of 2020, after 15 months in the wilderness, Conor McGregor makes his way back to the octagon and active competition. Not as the two-division UFC champion, but the former. Is there still a chapter left unwritten for a revitalised Notorious One?
Can he win back the hearts and minds of the fans which he so often thanked for supporting him through thick and thin? The ones who travelled to foreign shores to support their guy, even when he was just an up and coming fighter with promise. The legions of fans, some of which who indebted themselves to follow and support their man. Who was giving not just them, but a country, a spark of light at the end of the tunnel on some of their darkest days.
“I done this for us …”Conor Mcgregor UFC 189 post fight interview
And love him or hate him, I have no doubt Conor changed many peoples lives along the way. Many more people tuned in to follow his fights, some decided to take up the sport as they looked to emulate their hero. He changed the game for fighters in terms of the money they could now hope to earn. Making several fighters considerably wealthier along the way by stepping into the octagon or boxing ring to face him.
McGregor created his own niche with a niche and in the process turned himself into one of the biggest stars not just in mixed martial arts, but in all sports. Making his way on to the Forbes list alongside names like LeBron James and Lionel Messi.
Life Outside The Octagon
As his business activities outside the sport began to grow larger. Did his desire to compete decrease is in tandem? Was his unprecedented stardom his ultimate downfall? We can but speculate, but things really did not go well over the past couple of years.
And just when it looked like we had truly seen the last of him inside the UFC octagon. Conor McGregor now finally makes his way back into action against Cowboy Cerrone. A fighter with whom he does have at least some history. A couple of degrading comments here, some insults there, its all part of the fight game? And now the two will go head to head at 170 lbs as Cowboy looks to finally make him back it all up.
And while McGregor looks for his opportunity to step back into that division, will it be for more than just a one-off money fight? As names like Justin Gaethje and the champion Khabib Nurmagomedov pull him back down to lightweight. The decision as to what direction McGregor will take may very well all hang on his fight against Cerrone.
By now, you know as well as I do that a lot of half-truths and half baked plans get quoted in this sport. I’m gonna do this, he’s gonna get that … the usual stuff. But it won’t be until post-fight UFC 246 that we will have a clearer picture of what the future holds, actually for both men.
So Long Cowboy?
As Cerrone heads into the fight, having lost his last two fights and at 36 years of age. How would a third straight loss, with a big fat paycheck look? Would it be his ticket out as he rides off into the Colorado sunset? And for McGregor, the former face of the sport who turned many of his most ardent fans against him. What would a loss at 170 lbs mean for him, maybe not a whole lot?
While the public appetite might have wained, there is still a huge audience who want to see him make another run at 155 lbs. And of course, having already met him on two occasions at 170 lbs. His trilogy fight against Nate Diaz who could also make a come back at 155 lbs as Conor has hinted.
Win lose or draw McGregor still holds many of the cards. But these fights may be as much about what happens outside the cage as inside. Following his shenanigans, he may be looking to shore up his brands which no doubt took a huge hit. His life outside the sport will no doubt once again take priority in the very near future. So now is the time he needs to put some of his demons to rest and leave that all in the past.
“Get in, get rich, get out …”Conor McGregor
What Conor McGregor shows up fight night is anyone’s guess. In his recent interviews, he looks and talks like someone who has once again found their drive. But how long that drive lasts for post-UFC 246 is really anyone’s guess. Conor has hinted that this year is his season, as though he is looking no more than 12 months and a handful of fights into the future and maybe that is the best thing.
One step at a time, one foot in front of the other, slowly methodically and with purpose. Will 2020 be his year of redemption, the year which will be remembered as that of McGregor’s triumphant return. No Mystic Mac here, we will all just have to wait and see.
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