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Midnight Mania! When is the right time to retire, and should Conor McGregor do it?

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Conor McGregor rocketed to fame in the time since I began following the sport. I have had the privilege, as have millions, of following his journey from relatively unknown, big-talking flashy striker, to double champion, to celebrity boxer, to disgraced former champion mired in controversy and followed by trouble. One has to ask, when does it end? At what point will McGregor call it a career? At what point should he call it a career?

He clearly isn’t there yet, in spite of his ‘retirement’ announcement on social media. Yet, he’s accomplished everything he set out to do. McGregor said he was here to collect gold, make a lot of cash, and get out. He proclaimed himself future double champion when he arrived in the UFC, relatively tattoo free, from Cage Warriors. He did all that. He beat wrestler Chad Mendes on short notice in the main event of the unparalleled UFC 189, arriving as a superstar in that moment. He defeated Jose Aldo in that infamous 13 seconds. Every step was onto something bigger. He never defended ground, he always advanced. The one exception was the loss to Nate Diaz, and McGregor taking an immediate rematch was the riskiest move he could have made. It paid off, just barely, allowing the Irishman to move straight to his second title fight at lightweight. He parlayed his stardom into a circus of a boxing match against Floyd Mayweather, and though he predictably lost, he made 40 million for his troubles.

That’s when the cracks really started to appear. McGregor had become a true superstar, one of the biggest names in sports, and with the fame came the acting out. He was never shy of controversy, but with no more worlds to conquer, an unfocused Conor constantly found himself in one kind of trouble or another. He partied hard. He broke the law. He paid fines. He made enemies. When he finally made his return, against Dagestani lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, it was a roller-coaster that ended with an underwhelming performance from McGregor, who was unable to hurt Khabib and found himself tapping to a choke in the fourth round.

Having lost decisively, McGregor’s natural tendency is to try and get the belt back. It seems unlikely he will ever accomplish that, at least while Khabib holds the belt. McGregor is also still getting into trouble constantly. His personality, combined with his status, has not checked his worst impulses at all. He has all the options in terms of fighting, but is seemingly in no hurry to get back into the cage, at least not for less than he is worth.

The UFC, meanwhile, don’t need him nearly as much as they did prior to their sale and recent ESPN deal. Their revenue is mostly secure now, though ‘The Notorious’ is always good for a nice bump in cash. As for McGregor, he never needs to fight again. More than the money he made fighting, his whiskey has been a runaway success, netting an estimated 35-40 million by itself in the last year, without McGregor needing to fight. If that continues, McGregor will eventually become a billionaire. He’s got children now. He doesn’t need to take head trauma in return for cash. He’s functionally retired, and never officially rescinded his Twitter retirement.

Yet, the pull to compete is strong. The sad truth is, fighters, like most athletes, almost never know when to retire. The only champion to go out on top so far has been Georges St. Pierre. St. Pierre is a fascinating contrast with McGregor. He was a multi-millionaire and presumably still is, though he never led a venture as lucrative as Proper 12. He appeared in a movie franchise we all know in the Avengers, and even in retirement retained a number of high-level sponsorship deals. He did make a return against Michael Bisping up at middleweight, won the belt in dramatic fashion, and instantly retired again, eventually making it final. His life seems balanced and happy. GSP trains a lot, works on his gymnastics, and travels the world.

BJ Penn, by contrast, is still competing, in sadder and sadder fights, because he can’t figure out how to get his life together without the violence of the Octagon giving it structure. He is a prime example of what not to become. Nearly every other champion has suffered brutal knockout losses before eventually recognizing that they can no longer compete.

McGregor can still compete- but should he? What does he have to gain that he doesn’t have already? Perhaps the difficulty one has answering this question is the difficulty McGregor himself has. Perhaps that’s why we’ve seen him compete in the Octagon only once since 2016. At some point, one must recognize the writing on the wall.

There is no clear answer to the question. McGregor can do whatever he wants, and clearly some part of him still wants to fight. At some point, though, he will need to realize that the answer to fulfillment, to discipline, to happiness, cannot be found within the eight walls forever. At some point, a dream accomplished must be released. Otherwise, a hero lives long enough to see himself become his own worst villain.


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This is pretty amazing:

Because why not:

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l I just wanted to play baseball...

A post shared by Because jitsu (@because_jitsu) on

This new USADA suspension is interesting indeed:

Slips. Rips. KO Clips.

Back and forth!

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I’ve never heard it referred to as a spine fish elbow before, but I’m going to steal that.

Well, what do we have here:

Incredible flying slam:

Knees to the body!

Sleep well, Maniacs! A better tomorrow is always possible. Follow me on Twitter and Facebook @Vorpality

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