There was a time when Conor McGregor was arguably the pound-for-pound best fighter in the UFC. He seemed to have everything needed to succeed – speed, power and enough grappling ability to get by. He backed all of this up with one of the biggest mouths in the entire industry.
McGregor’s record is still extremely good with just five losses in his career and only three of those coming in the UFC. However, since losing to Khabib, he does seem to have lost a step. Is he a shadow of his former self, or can he come through this tough time to take his seat at the top of the mountain again?
Eye of the Tiger
Many feel that Conor McGregor hasn’t lost his ability, but he’s just lost his hunger. Success came to him, not just in the octagon but financially as well, and it has gone to his head. Once money came his way, he was more likely to be seen in the casino than in the gym. It meant that, ironically, people who would have backed him with their bets turned their backs. By visiting casinos instead of gyms, McGregor showed that his heart wasn’t in fighting how it used to be. He had managed to fight his way out of poverty. He didn’t need to do it anymore.
While it would be unfair to claim Khabib didn’t deserve his win against McGregor, it would also be unfair to suggest that it was Conor’s best showing either. We still feel that Khabib would have won if McGregor was at his best. At the same time, it’s unlikely that McGregor would have been demolished and quite frankly embarrassed in the way that he was if he had trained properly. Once you lose the eye of the tiger, it’s hard to get it back. If McGregor loses the trilogy rematch against Poirier, then there’s a good chance that it’s gone for good.
Focusing on the Right Area
Most of McGregor’s losses have come via submission. However, his last loss against Poirier was by TKO. It was the first time he’d ever lost by anything other than submission and he has taken this on board in his training for the rematch. He’s training with an Indian heavyweight in the build-up to the third bout. It’s obvious that McGregor realised in the last fight that the potential to lose out on the striking game was there.
As such, he has chosen to try and combat this issue by training with someone who will hit a lot harder than his opponent. It means he can build up his tolerance to the strikes and therefore deal with them to a much better standard during the fight. This shows that McGregor is definitely taking this rematch seriously and he wants to try and build his reputation back up. He knows that if he loses this fight, then his UFC career could be over. So, it’s evident that he is taking it seriously.
It’s no guarantee that he will win. In fact the odds for this fight are close to even. As we said, if the eye of the tiger has gone, then he might never get it back, but it will certainly give him a chance of putting in a better performance than last time.
This is something that has been commented on a number of times in the past. The amount of money that McGregor has means that he can essentially do whatever he wants. There’s very little that is out of his reach. This means that there are a lot of distractions thrown his way. All of this can end up causing more harm than good.
Take the last fight, for example. Not only did McGregor get a significant guaranteed purse whether he won or lost, but he also got a share of the PPV revenue. This means that, in terms of reward, there wasn’t much incentive there for McGregor to win. All he had was his own personal pride. It’s arguable whether this is enough for him to give everything that he has anymore. Money can change people and there’s a fair bit of evidence that this is what it’s done to McGregor.
He’s Not the Brash Fighter he Once Was
This is one that really stands out. Part of what made McGregor box office was his behaviour before fights. He had no intention of staying quiet and he would trash talk fighters for as long as he had a microphone near him. It wasn’t just before fights either – who can forget his apology to absolutely nobody after beating Eddie Alvarez to become double champ? He’s not that man anymore, though.
Since Khabib beat him, he seems to have been humbled somewhat. It goes without saying that if he’s not able to start building up the wins, the fans could soon become bored of him. Regardless of anything else, the UFC is all about the revenue. If the fighters aren’t bringing it in, then they won’t use them anymore. If McGregor doesn’t become a winner again, then there’s a good chance the new, humble McGregor won’t bring in the viewers as he did before.
It’s certainly a calculated move by McGregor. He knows that if he kept on being the guy he was before, then people would be more motivated to beat him. He also knows that at the moment, he hasn’t earned the right to be that man.
Too Many Outside Interests
McGregor isn’t just a fighter. He’s also a businessman. He’s set up a number of businesses with the money that he has earned from fighting. He knows that fighting can’t go on forever. Maybe he even knows that his body has taken too much punishment and he can’t fight at the level he used to be at anymore.
Whatever the reasons behind it, McGregor has set up a number of different businesses. It means that some of his focus is taken away from fighting. While he obviously needs these businesses to keep his revenue coming in, he also needs to remember that if he wants to get back to his best, then he will have to focus more on his fighting than his business interests.