There was a time in the not-too-distant past when Conor McGregor simultaneously held world titles in two separate weight classes and was contemplating a third. And not only was “Notorious” one of the most outspoken fighters on the entire UFC roster, he could also back it up inside the cage.
McGregor promptly parlayed his MMA success into a Floyd Mayweather boxing match in summer 2017, which made him rich and more importantly, a household name. That’s how Proper No. 12 — the Irishman’s former whiskey brand — was able to break records right out of the gate.
And why McGregor may never again hold a world title.
“Physically, it’s going to be very hard to come back from that kind of injury at this point in his life,” Hall of Fame boxing trainer Teddy Atlas told Submission Radio. “And because there’s a lot of factors. How much money he’s made, how much success he’s had. And it’s hard. The late great Marvin Hagler once had one of the great quotes: ‘It’s difficult to get up and do roadwork at five in the morning when you’re sleeping in silk sheets.’ It’s not easy. And that’s real. And when you made the money and the fame that Conor McGregor [has], god bless him, he’s a genius. He’s a genius and a genius promoter, and he was a great striker, a great counter puncher. But he’s at a place now where the strengths that carried him in the ring, that style, he’s not getting away with it anymore.”
After nearly two years away from the fight game, McGregor (22-6) returned to MMA and was promptly thrashed by lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov. In fact, “Notorious” is just 1-3 since his glory days as UFC “champ champ” and will try to battle back from a broken leg suffered in his second consecutive loss to longtime rival Dustin Poirier.
“When he did it before, the timing was right, the stars lined up right,” Atlas continued. “The guys he was fighting were a little cooperative. They were coming in thinking they were going to get in. They didn’t realize how good he was at controlling distance and range and being able to set ‘em up for a trap, for a counter punch. Now it’s a different breed, it’s a different fighter that he’s facing. He’s not facing guys that are just going to walk in and get caught with that left hand. And they’re guys that are better than him in the grappling, the Jiu Jitsu, on the floor. They’re really good in that area, and they’re good in the striking area too. So, it’s going to be tough.”
McGregor, 33, is expected to make his UFC return in late 2022.