There was a time in the not-too-distant past when Conor McGregor was two-division champion and quite possibly on his way to a third title in as many weight classes. Then something truly wonderful — and truly awful — happened to “Notorious.”
He became the richest fighter in all of sports.
That wealth came from a couple of big opportunities both inside and outside the arena. First, “Notorious” was able to land a life-changing payday against Floyd Mayweather Jr., who in summer 2017, was still the biggest (and most profitable) name in boxing.
McGregor then used the power of his world-renowned brand to leverage an Irish whiskey deal under the Proper 12 banner, doubling his already impressive net worth and securing the financial future for his continuously-growing family.
Unfortunately for his UFC legacy — and millions of MMA fans — it came at a cost.
Since his technical knockout loss to Mayweather just over six year ago, the 35 year-old McGregor has competed just four times, posting an abysmal 1-3 record inside the Octagon and getting stopped in all three losses, dropping out of the Top 15 in the process.
So what happened?
“Here’s what happens, Piers, and you know this — I’m sure you’ve seen this with colleagues and friends and people that you know,” UFC CEO Dana White told Piers Morgan. “Once a certain level of money is attained, to be the person that you were coming up, to be that hungry and work that hard and be that dedicated to the sport, or whatever craft it is you do, money changes everything. Conor McGregor has made that kind of money. It’s not a knock. It’s just a fact.”
“When we sold the company in 2016, this was sort of a Microsoft of fighting,” White continued. “There were a lot of people that made a lot of money, and a lot of people left and they went and retired, or moved onto — you have to have a certain type of drive to make that kind of money, and you’ve seen guys in this sport when they make that kind of money, they’ll fight a lot less like Conor has, or they go on losing streaks because you are not that same person once you get that kind of money.”
You know what they say about silk pajamas.
McGregor has been in talks to make his UFC return against Michael Chandler, a bout that was supposed to capitalize on their Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 31 feud. Unfortunately, “Notorious” was unable to work out his issues with USADA and his return was delayed.