What next for Conor McGregor after his UFC 229 destruction at the hands of Khabib Nurmagomedov?
Being the biggest star in an entire sport brings numerous privileges; fame, fortune and in the case of Mixed Martial Arts, it allows you to lose and not see any of these benefits disappear. Conor McGregor suffered a brutal, one-sided defeat at the hands of Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 229, for most that would be hugely detrimental to their career, for McGregor, it will not.
Billed as the biggest fight in MMA history, the lightweight title was on the line for both men, but there was so much more to lose for the Dagastani than the Irishman. If Khabib suffered the knockout fate of Jose Also or Eddie Alvarez it would be back down the card, earning a fraction of the money and with no gold on the line for his next fight. McGregor suffered the ignominy of being beaten, bloodied, taken down and submitted, but none of those things will happen to him.
Whichever way Conor wants to go next, he will be headlining the next event he takes part in. His pay cheque will be in the millions and, depending who he chooses to fight, there will be gold on the line if he wants it. These are the privileges of the position McGregor has made for himself. Like it or not, the Notorious still holds the keys to the kingdom even in defeat, so what will he choose to do next?
The Khabib rematch
Given the bad blood between these two fighters and their teams, which caused the ugly scenes after the UFC 229 main event, this one would be a risky one for the promotion to take on, but potentially an even bigger event than the first. From a promotional standpoint at least, fight-wise there seems little need for a second run of this one.
McGregor was quick to call for the rematch, but is there really much point or call for it? Khabib won the first fight so clearly, taking little damage, taking McGregor down and keeping him down regularly. He could even argue that he got the better of the stand-up as he knocked the Irishman down with a lightning quick right, whilst McGregor’s vaunted left hand made little or no impact at all.
Good knock. Looking forward to the rematch.
— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) October 7, 2018
There are plenty of legs in this one in terms of promotion and intrigue as to how the two men would behave around each other again. Would McGregor continue to poke the Russian bear given the chaos it caused in Las Vegas? Has Khabib been able to shut Conor’s mouth given the beating he gave him in the octagon?
These things would be interesting to find out, but in terms of the fight, it is almost pointless. McGregor was the underdog in the first contest and he would be an extremely lengthy one in the second where we would likely see much the same as we did in the first. There was so much intrigue and excitement over how their styles would match up in the first fight. That has now been seen and understood, there is no need to see it again.
The Mayweather rematch
You can file this one under the same category as the Khabib rematch, but, annoyingly, it is still very much an option for Floyd and Conor to go at it again in a boxing ring, or under modified rules in a cage.
McGregor impressed many people in his boxing match with Mayweather, managing 10 rounds before being stopped by the Money man. He landed some good shots and gave Floyd something to think about. But did he hurt him? No. Did he actually come close to beating him? No. Was Floyd actually trying in those early rounds? It didn’t look like it. Throwing five punches in the entire first round would certainly suggest not.
But these two men are promotional masters and there would be plenty of money to be made for both of them. Mayweather turns 42 in February, could he still cut it in the ring? McGregor will surely have improved thanks to those 10 rounds with Floyd, has he worked out how to beat him?
If this happens it will be a real shame because Conor is not going to beat Floyd now, or at any point. In a UFC fight, clearly he would, but Mayweather is never going to agree to that. There was talk of him agreeing to modified rules but these were basically boxing in a cage rather than a ring.
Much like the Khabib situation, the first fight provided intrigue and a certain amount of the unknown. We now have our answers, McGregor was clearly beaten and we don’t need to see this again.
The GSP super-fight
This should be an easy option for the UFC and would almost certainly outstrip Conor vs Khabib as the biggest fight in the company’s history. Conor McGregor and Georges St-Pierre are two of the top five biggest stars ever to perform in the UFC and for them to meet would be massive. It would probably be at a catchweight, with no gold on the line, but no one would care and it wouldn’t hold up any divisions in the process.
Both men would be intrigued by the contest in terms of their legacies, and in terms of the enormous paymcheques they would earn. There really isn’t another MMA fight for either man that would see them pocket more cash, so there is no question they would be interested.
GSP would be the favourite given his superior wrestling and the fact he has campaigned at welterweight for the majority of his career and won the middleweight title in his last fight. But there would be more than enough intrigue over whether McGregor can knock him out to sell the fight.
The fans would love it, the company would do huge numbers with it and neither man would be riling other fighters by jumping straight into title contention. It does seem like a winning situation all round.
St-Pierre is 4/9 to beat McGregor – Conor is available at 13/8
The winner of Holloway vs Ortega
McGregor has whinged before about not being offered a featherweight fight before he was stripped of his title. Now, this is because he fought Nate Diaz at welterweight twice, Alvarez for the lightweight belt and then went to box Floyd Mayweather, so it is a bit of an unjustified moan, but nevertheless it is true.
Having not fought at featherweight for nearly three years it might be a push for McGregor to make it back to 145lbs, but if he could then there is a great fight waiting for him there. Max Holloway defends his featherweight title against Brian Ortega in December, and the winner of that will be right up there in the pound-for-pound rankings. Conor against either man would create some great storylines
Holloway has not lost since 2013, compiling a 12-fight winning streak, the longest in the UFC right now. His last defeat was against…Conor McGregor. Holloway would love revenge and a huge amount of cash. McGregor would love his belt back.
If Ortega is to beat Holloway then he will cement his place as one of the most exciting talents in the sport. The Californian is 14-0 and all six of his UFC wins have come inside the distance (3 knockouts and 3 submissions). If he becomes the man to stop Holloway’s streak and claim the featherweight belt, then Ortega vs McGregor would be huge.
This one would be entirely down to Conor and if he either can or wants to make featherweight again. But for the fans, the promotion and whoever the 145lb champ is, it would be an absolute cracker.
McGregor will be back in the octagon, who he is standing opposite will largely be up to him. Let’s hope he chooses one of the more exciting options than one we have seen before.
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October 8th, 2018 by Simon A
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