UNITED STATES—Conor McGregor stepped back into the Octagon recently with UFC domination on his mind but left it with a big decision to make.
The Irish MMA star had fended off talks of retirement before stepping into the ring with Dustin Poirier, doubtless hoping for a strong showing to once again return to the top of the promotion. Instead, he was knocked out by the US fighter, and has now been medically suspended for six months.
Poirier’s win sent shockwaves around the world, not least because it was the first PPV event McGregor had fought outside of the US. The fight took place in Abu Dhabi, which has become a popular location for UFC events in the past. Many of McGregor’s big fights, including those against Jose Aldo, and Nate Diaz, have taken place in the US, which has hosted 354 events, according to a Bwin post on MMA events. McGregor has also previously fought in Ireland and Sweden under the UFC banner, but never in Abu Dhabi, despite the promotion staging events there on 29 other occasions.
Will this defeat see him back in his homeland, licking his wounds and contemplating retirement again? Or will he seek to banish his Abu Dhabi nightmare and return to the United Arab Emirates against another hopeful? We have put together four alternatives for McGregor after his Poirier loss.
The obvious next step would be UFC redemption, possibly by capping off the double-headers he had with Diaz and Poirier with a third and final bout. He is 1-1 in bouts with both men, and a third encounter against either would be a huge draw for fight fans. Poirier admitted after his victory that he would welcome a third match up with the Notorious, but he also wants a stab at Diaz, whom he has yet to face.
YouTube star Jake Paul is great at self-promotion, and he’s been name dropping Diaz and McGregor ahead of a bout with former MMA fighter Ben Askren. If Paul were to get passed Askren, which is unlikely of course, then it might pave the way for a fight with McGregor. Whilst it would not look good on paper, perhaps not in the flesh either, it would be of worldwide interest, given Paul’s popularity and social media reach.
Tyson Fury has proven you can dip your toe into the world of sports entertainment and then go back to being a successful competitor in ‘real’ bouts, so why not McGregor? He has the vital ingredient all successful wrestling stars need – charisma and character. He would make a great heel and with his MMA background, there is no reason why he could not develop his in-ring skills as well. WWE would be delighted to take someone with his profile too, so why not take the paycheck and give Vince McMahon a call Conor?
He has threatened it before, he has even called retirement twice, is this the bout that finally pushes him over the edge? He has been humble in defeat recently and the bout did not have the vitriol and hatred that his match with Khabib Nurmagomedov did. Is the Notorious one losing his edge? If so, it might be time to step out of the Octagon for good, and perhaps spend some time enjoying the fruits of his labor.