OPINION: Conor McGregor’s Legacy and What’s Next?

Conor McGregor didn’t look himself at UFC 229, and that is what can happen when you face a top-tier opponent who is stylistically a nightmare for you. I am not a casual fan, I know a hell of a lot about the MMA world, but I’ll admit it, I enjoy Conor McGregor. I am not here to make you a fan or turn you away from the notorious, I simply am here to state my opinion and hopefully ignite some healthy debate.

McGregor at 145lb. was special if you are arguing it wasn’t then you are simply speaking out of hatred towards the man. A win over now Champion Max Holloway occurred early in both of their careers, and yes “Blessed” was a kid at the time, if that ever was run back the tables could turn. McGregor got into Poirier’s head and defeated him easily but again, Poirier at 155 is a monster and if it was run back we could see different results. The Chad Mendes win of course was last minute and Mendes came from his couch. Mendes took McGregor down and was winning the fight until clipped against the cage, but McGregor was also fighting on an injured leg. Obviously, we all know the Aldo win, 13 seconds, the bullying of Aldo got into the great champion’s head and the rest is history.

It is easy to go back and look at past wins and question them. Holloway was super young and has insanely improved since, Mendes with a full camp may have defeated McGregor, Poirier is so much better now compared to then, McGregor never fought Frankie Edgar, Aldo getting KO’d like that “was a lucky shot.” The haters of McGregor have said it all, and some of it may be true, Mendes with a full camp would have been a problem, but was McGregor not using his full camp to prepare for a completely different fighter? Holloway and Poirier may have been young and not the same fighters as they are right now, but McGregor has improved his game as well and how is it his fault that they crossed paths in a certain time period, he did the job that was in front of him. Aldo being KO’d like that wouldn’t happen 9 times out of 10, you are probably correct, but it happened, in reality you can question any matchup and say “what if”, but in this sport we must go by what results really occurred whether we like it or not.

Photo Via USA Today

Obviously McGregor and Diaz had their rivalry and went 1-1, and I believe that 3rd matchup will occur in the near future so we can get back to that. When McGregor and Eddie Alvarez was announced, as a McGregor fan I was terrified. I thought this would be a nightmare for the Irishman, Alvarez is not only a great wrestler, but he has a chin and can throw a punch, nightmare matchup for Conor. McGregor made Alvarez look like an amateur in the cage that night, something any true MMA fan was surprised by, including myself.

Photo Via Esther Lin MMA Fighting

As the Conor and Khabib rivalry grew, disturbing events took place, McGregor and the bus incident was unnecessary and as a fan of McGregor I was embarrassed. I never thought we would get the Conor Vs. Khabib matchup, and was surprised we would actually see these two in the cage. McGregor being out of the sport for 2 years, against an undefeated monster, Khabib dominated. McGregor was given a round by the judges but it was domination through and through. For a moment lets ignore the antics after the fight by both teams, because that is a discussion for another day. 

In the UFC McGregor has now lost to Diaz at 170, and now to Khabib at 155. Not many people speak on the heart of McGregor to rematch Diaz at 170, it would have been easy to take the loss, return to 145 or look for RDA at 155 which was the original idea. Instead he not only rematched Diaz but did it on the same terms. I believe we will see a Khabib Vs. McGregor rematch someday, not sure when and after that performance I don’t think it should be immediate. Ferguson and Poirier are next in line for the chance at Khabib. As for the legacy of McGregor, it took a hit with this fight, a lot of talking that didn’t transfer over to the cage. Khabib is not normal, he has a tendency to make great fighters look nothing like themselves.

“I’m here for the love of the sport” those are the words McGregor spoke when asked why he has returned, well time to prove it. Clear as day McGregor has the money, fame and health to retire today and cut his losses but his legacy would be destroyed. When he lost to Diaz people were quick to jump on him as a fraud, he came back and faced the same monster that made him tap, and won, that showed us that McGregor has a lot of heart in him. Now as we see him take a tough loss to Khabib what is next for McGregor? I think if he leaves to go box again or retires, the MMA world will turn on him, even those who have supported him, because that would be a fraudulent move. It is time to stay in the cage, no matter the opponent, take the Diaz 3 fight, fight Poirier for the second time, a war with Justin Geathje. There are so many contenders at lightweight, options are abundant. 

Photo Via MMA Fighting Esther Lin

The one thing McGregor can’t do is leave, he has to much to prove right now. We cannot take away from him the accomplishments he has made in this sport, but right now as a McGregor fan, I believe it is time for “The Notorious” to step up and eat the hate and use it to fuel his fire, enter the cage again, build yourself back up, improve become the star you were in this sport and regain control over what you call your kingdom. The Khabib rematch is inevitable, but I think it would be more impressive if McGregor took a fight or two before it, and rejuvenated the former prime he held, two years out of the sport doesn’t help you defeat a monster. One of the best things about 145 McGregor is that he fought often, and stayed sharp constantly. The McGregor legacy is in question and the ball is in his court to either build upon it, or have the foundation crack forever. 

Author: Joe McDonagh (Joe_mcdonagh6)

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