*Editor’s Note: UFC 197 has now been renamed UFC 196 due to the change in name of the event on February 6, UFC Fight Night: Hendricks vs. Thompson.*
Conor McGregor just cut the to the front of the line in the most stacked division in all of mixed martial arts, the UFC’s Lightweight division.
As previously rumored, and now officially confirmed by the UFC, Conor McGregor will share the cage with Rafael dos Anjos for the Lightweight Championship. Conor is all about making history, and with this matchup, he will look to become the first-ever multi-division Champion in the UFC by holding both the Featherweight and Lightweight belts. Also officially confirmed is another championship bout between newly crowned Bantamweight Champion, Holly Holm vs. perennial title contender, Meisha Tate.
Both of these fights are genius moves from a not only a matchmaking standpoint as they create very intriguing fights, but also for future promotional reasons. It doesn’t matter if Conor skipped to the front of the line of a higher weight class, doing something that Anthony Pettis wished he could have done when he held the title (except in reverse, moving down a class to fight Jose Aldo). It doesn’t matter if Frankie Edgar seemingly was passed over once again for a title shot. For Holly Holm, it’s great she’s staying active and facing off against Meisha.
Can you imagine the level of stardom both Conor and Holly would achieve if they walk away with their hands raised? All four fighters involved are well-liked by fight fans and truly strive to be great, but the genius of it all is this:
Both Conor and Holly could lose, and it doesn’t even matter.
You may be thinking, “Conor is the biggest draw in MMA right now! A loss to RDA would derail the hype train!” You would be correct by stating that Conor is the biggest draw. The numbers show it by the records broken at UFC 194. A live gate of $10.1 million surpassed the previous record of $7.2 million also set by McGregor at UFC 189. A record number 16,516 people witnessed McGregor dethrone Jose Aldo in 13 seconds. However, you would be wrong in thinking a loss to dos Anjos would hurt his career and drawing power.
Not only are the Irish fans the most loyal in all of MMA, but if Conor were to lose, guess what? Even if McGregor were to be taken out in the same manner that Rafael dos Anjos took out his most recent challenger, Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone, Conor would still hold a UFC Title. This scenario could create a very sellable fight against the man who many wanted to see Conor face next anyways, Frankie Edgar. Conversely, if McGregor emerges victorious, the possibilities are endless as there are many different options and marketable fights with a multi-division champ. As Conor said after three fighters called him out at UFC on FOX 17, “Line them up on their knees with their hands out. I want them to beg me.”
Genius move number one.
The matchup between Holly Holm and Meisha Tate may be even smarter. Holly Holm became the UFC Bantamweight Champion after knocking out Ronda Rousey in the most shocking moment, most impressive performance, best knockout, and whatever other superlative “of 2015” you’d like to attach to that fight. With UFC 200 approaching quickly in July, the idea of seeing Holm enter the cage before that date was unlikely, as it was expected her next fight would be a rematch against Rousey. That is until Holm expressed her desire to stay active and take a fight sooner rather than later. Her first title defense will come against Tate, who will be getting her second shot at the title, after losing her previous opportunity by way of a Ronda Rousey armbar at UFC 168.
Ideally, the winner of this fight would take on number one contender, Ronda Rousey, at UFC 200, barring any serious injuries. As if an upcoming Ronda fight doesn’t sell itself by simply existing, the angle of Ronda getting her shot at revenge against Holly at the biggest Pay Per View since UFC 100 would be a massive fight promotionally. Conversely, if Holly is unsuccessful against Tate, how does the UFC sell a third fight between Miesha and Ronda? It’s simple. Miesha would be champion, and would have done so without going through Ronda again.
The UFC promised Tate a title shot after she emerged victorious over Jessica Eye at UFC on Fox 16, but Dana White and company changed their minds, most likely due to concerns of a lack of interest. With all due respect to Miesha, we’ve seen how that fight plays out twice already. However, with that new angle, the promotion leading up to the fight would be similar to what we’re about to see with Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones; the Champion would be facing an opponent who they have previously lost to in a championship bout, yet this time, the loser of the previous matchup is now holding the belt. You can almost hear it now, “I’ve never lost to you. I’m the real champion and everybody knows it,” or similar statements would be heard in promotional lead-up to Ronda versus Miesha III. To top it off, throw in the minute fact that both women despise each other, and you’ve got everyone hooked again.
Genius move number two.
While these fights may not have been calculated with similar thoughts in mind, the UFC finds itself in a very advantageous position promotionally regardless of the outcome of these championship matchups. What is certain for now, is UFC 197 will take place on March 5, 2016 to host a pair of exciting title fights along with many other unannounced main card and undercard fights. Keep in mind, last March at UFC 185, two new champions were crowned (one being Rafael dos Anjos).
Will the UFC’s version of “March Madness” continue in 2016?
Conor McGregor has ‘Every intention of fighting in 2018’
Despite being inactive since his historic boxing bout with Floyd Mayweather Jr. in August, Conor McGregor is never far from the headlines. Recently his out of cage antics have got people questioning if he’ll ever be back.
Thankfully the UFC lightweight champion appears to have cleared up any rumors about his fighting career.
Speaking to his sponsor Betsafe, the “Notorious” Conor McGregor said “My focus is getting back into the right ring or octagon. 2017 was historic. I have transcended both the sport of MMA and boxing. At this stage of my career, as it has been for the majority of my UFC career, potential opponents must lobby for fights with me. We could see Conor McGregor anywhere. I run the fight game, the fashion game, the whiskey game or whatever the next business endeavor might be”.
McGregor added, “I have every intention of fighting in 2018 if my compensation and business development endeavors accurately reflect my influence on combat sports.”
This comes just two weeks after UFC President Dana White told reporters “Conor might never fight again. The guy’s got $100 (expletive) million. I’ve got guys that made less than that and were lawyers and went to school their whole life and quit working.”
White went on to say “Try to get up and get punched in the face every day when you’ve got $100 million in the bank. Money changes everything with a lot of people.”
White also told reporters that the “Notorious one”, “can’t be paid enough money” and that he is “worth every penny and more.” McGregor’s recent statement suggests he knows that and won’t be back till his demands are met.
The UFC lightweight division has been stalled in the absence of the champion McGregor and now the interim champion Tony Ferguson has undergone surgery. The UFC has been known the remove belts from fighters who have been delayed for extended amounts of time, this would be highly unlikely with the popularity of McGregor.
Will Conor McGregor ever fight again?
The future of the UFC’s biggest ever star is in doubt. But it was also never a secret. “The Notorious” Conor McGregor always made his intentions clear, “Get in. Get rich. Get out”. And now he’s rich, very rich.
Get in. Get rich. Get out.
— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) August 12, 2014
In 2008 at the age of 20 a baby-faced, clean-shaven McGregor stated his ambitions for his MMA career after just 5 professional fights. He said “My dream is to be world champion in the UFC, have more money than I know what to do with, and have a great life for my kids, my grandkids, everyone in my family, everyone that’s come up with me. That’s my dream”.
Along his journey, McGregor has never kept his intentions to himself. At first, it was to get into the UFC. Then it was the featherweight belt. Then it was to replicate what he had done in his previous promotion, to become the UFC’s first simultaneous two-weight world champion.
The issue now is that McGregor has achieved everything he has set out to do. From world titles to being a multi-millionaire, he’s done it all. And now there is no statement of intent. No dream to chase.
Since he’s achieved everything he said he ever wanted, where does the hunger for more come from? Currently, it doesn’t appear to be there.
Since the last time we saw McGregor with gloves on, the charismatic Irishman has seemingly gone off the rails. There was the Bellator 187 incident in Dublin, where McGregor stormed the cage and pushed veteran referee Marc Goddard and slapped an official. But more recently the Irish Daily Mail has reported that McGregor was involved in a bar fight in his native Crumlin, where he is believed to have punched an associate of a major crime gang in Dublin. Whether this is true or not, it is still something a UFC champion and role model shouldn’t be associated with.
From the outside, McGregor’s life is more about hours spent at the club rather than the gym.
But who can blame the man for enjoying the fruits of his labor? He is acting how most 29-year-old men would if they had just received $100 million.
This is his life’s work paying off.
After McGregor’s loss at UFC 196, he wanted an immediate rematch against Nate Diaz at the same weight. It showed us he’s a true martial artist with the heart of a lion. It showed his desperation to get that win back and prove he is the better competitor. And when he won, he proved all his doubters wrong as he walked on crutches through the corridor of the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas screaming “doubt me now”.
But after his loss to Mayweather Jr., there has seemingly been no desire to arrange a fight to get back in the win column.
It’s easy to forget during this period of inactivity that McGregor is one of the most active guys in MMA. From UFC 194 to UFC 205, McGregor competed in 4 fights at 3 different weight classes against high caliber opponents inside the space of 11 months. The truth is he deserves a well-earned rest.
However, in a recent media scrum, Dana White confirmed that Conor was looking to fight before the end of the year but had been pulled from UFC 219 as punishment for the incident at Bellator 187.
Dana also told the reporters in the room “Conor might never fight again. The guys got $100 million. I’ve got guys that made less than that and were lawyers and went to school their whole life and quit working”.
White also said, “Try and get up and get punched in the face every day when you’ve got $100 million in the bank”.
The two statements from Dana are very contradicting as he isn’t sure McGregor will ever fight again, but at the same time he wanted to fight on December 30th. Maybe Dana is struggling to pick apart the mind of Conor McGregor as much as we are.
There are plenty of reasons why Conor should never come back.
Not only is he set for life but he’s also healthy. McGregor is extremely conscious about his health and has mentioned several times throughout his career about the importance of keeping your brain healthy.
But there are plenty of reasons why he should he come back.
He loves to fight and he loves making money. He needs to capitalize on that whilst he can.
McGregor doesn’t have to settle for one big payday, he has matchups waiting for him such as Ferguson, Diaz, and GSP. There is always the welterweight belt and his Croke Park dream. And the door is open for a return to boxing, especially with fighters like De La Hoya, Pacquiao, and Malignaggi calling him out.
He’s also at the peak in terms of age and physique and in terms of power. Where he has the whole MMA world on strings with every small move he makes.
There is no knowing if McGregor will ever fight again. If McGregor returns to his usual self, he will likely be back in the first quarter of 2018, where he will fight frequently. But as time ticks on and there is no fight announcement McGregor may be stripped of his belt never to be seen again.
He got in. He got rich. Is he out? Let us know.
Manny Pacquiao Hints at Possible 2018 Fight with Conor McGregor
Here we go again. Just when we thought Conor McGregor was set on a return to the octagon, boxing legend Manny Pacquiao has seemingly called out the charismatic Irishman with his latest Instagram post.
It appears the current senator of the Philippines also wants a trip on the money train that is Conor McGregor, as he sent out this cryptic message on his Instagram.
The caption reads “Happy thanksgiving! Stay fit my friend. #realboxingmatch #2018 @thenotoriousmma”.
This comes a week after retired boxer Oscar De La Hoya claimed he has been secretly training for a bout with “The Notorious One.” Speaking on ‘Golden Boy Radio with Tattoo and the Crew’, De La Hoya claimed “I’m faster than ever and stronger than ever. I know I can take out Conor McGregor out in two rounds”.
After his most recent loss to Australian boxer Jeff Horn, retirement looked imminent for ‘Pac-Man’. But a shot at McGregor and the pay day his name brings, appears to be far too tempting.
McGregor loves to test himself and he loves money. So he will be licking his lips just thinking about the opportunity to get back in the ring against a high calibre opponent like Pacquiao. Not just to make money, but to prove his doubters wrong after his boxing debut against Floyd Mayweather Jr.
McGregor’s immediate future looks set to be a fight with Tony Ferguson in 2018. But after that who knows what the future holds for the UFC lightweight champion.
If McGregor’s next fight is a boxing match with Pacquiao, then it could spell the end of his title reign. As Ferguson likes to say it’s ‘defend or vacate’ time.
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