Watching the immediate aftermath of UFC 264’s main event was honestly a bit shocking.
Not what happened in the cage; that was expected. Dustin Poirier responded to all the low-blow trash talk with a mix of graciousness and savagery. Perfect! McGregor yelled like a raving maniac while doctor’s fixed up his destroyed limb. Expected! On the mic, Joe Rogan did his best to focus on the strange ending, rather than the lead up that saw Poirier beat up the company’s biggest star.
None of that was surprising.
For once, however, I have to shout out the additional talking heads. Max Kellerman and Stephen A. Smith are more mainstream personalities than those who usually are featured on UFC events, and that turned out to be a blessing! Perhaps less hindered by the usual UFC blinders, those two were able to witness and relay the truth: Conor McGregor is done as an elite talent.
Now, the news itself did not shock me — I wrote as much ahead of the fight! With a loss, McGregor is out of the Lightweight title mix. What was astounding was to hear it on a UFC broadcast. Smith and Kellerman very clearly wrote off McGregor moving forward.
That doesn’t sell pay-per-view (PPV) units. Emboldened by those voices, Michael Bisping and Dominick Cruz ultimately ended up tacking on similar, if slightly more optimistic, views.
The moment the UFC hype machine abandoned McGregor ... unbelievable.
It really hammered home the question that has been inching its way forward all week: why keep doing this? What is left for Conor McGregor inside the Octagon?
From start to finish, the last week has been abysmal for the McGregor brand. In the lead up to the bout, McGregor embarrassed himself with his canned attempts to talk s—t at the press conference and start awful chants (watch it). All the atrocious implications regarding Poirier’s wife?
I felt like a loser writing about it; imagine being the original source.
The fight itself didn’t go much better. McGregor’s strong first round was trimmed down to a strong 60 seconds, then Poirier promptly landed the better punches, pummeled him on the mat, and left him in a pile with an agonizing injury. Then, immediately afterward, the broadcast itself dumped on the golden boy.
So ... Why do this?
There is no amount of money McGregor can make from prizefighting that he cannot make far more easily earn from starting some other business with his name on it. His incredible legacy, meanwhile, is not being improved by continuing to compete.
There are only two reasons I can divine as to why McGregor would want to keep fighting at the highest level. One is optimistic, one is cynical. If we’re feeling positive, we could say it’s all for the love of the game, that even with untold figures in one’s bank account, there’s still a passion for such a brutal sport that compels a man like McGregor to compete needlessly. Then, there’s the darker option. It’s one of obsession, ego and a desperate need for attention.
Whatever the case — and whatever you personally believe — McGregor has a long and painful rehabilitation process ahead of him to consider his future, as well as his reasons why.
For complete UFC 264: “McGregor vs. Poirier 3” results and play-by-play, click HERE.
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