Who next for Conor McGregor? Fourth Dustin Poirier fight, trilogy with Nate Diaz, or Tony Ferguson?
Who next for Conor McGregor? It seems like the age-old question at this point.
Up until 2016, the Irishman was a phenomenon inside the octagon. He still is a phenomenon in so many ways, but he has one win in his last four fights and he’s only had five fights in five years.
He’s reached heights no one else has ever seen in MMA. But now he’s entering a crucial phase of his career and it goes hand in hand with his star power.
McGregor spent his prime years chasing a Floyd Mayweather fight that made him rich beyond his wildest dreams. He had already achieved double champion status by this point in the UFC.
In the years since, he lost to Khabib Nurmagomedov and with that, his lightweight supremacy. Khabib has retired with a pristine 29-0 record, so not the end of the world losing that fight.
He blitzed Donald Cerrone in a comeback fight in January 2020 but now, in 2021, he’s lost to Dustin Poirier twice and has come away from the second fight with a broken leg.
For a man who turns 33 this week, it’s not a good run of performances and his health has not held up. The hurricane of violent knockouts and masterful striking that created this enigma all the way to becoming the first ever double champion is hard to see now.
So what next for McGregor when he’s healed up? UFC president Dana White seemed open to having McGregor and Poirier meet for a fourth time after the fight, but Gareth A. Davies told talkSPORT there’s no need for it.
“He’s a genius marketeer in many ways and a cash-cow for the UFC, but athletically, I think his days, if not numbered, are over.
“I don’t think we’ll see a fourth fight between them. There’s absolutely no need for it. If the UFC sees money in it, they’ll do it. But I think that was pretty conclusive on who is the elite fighter right now.”
White estimated that the pay-per-view drew ‘anywhere between 1.7-1.8 million’ buys and that would make it the UFC’s second highest selling pay-per-view ever.
Although many feel McGregor’s stock is fading, he has never had a boring fight. He’s never had anything but fireworks win, lose or draw. That part of his lustre remains intact and for how silly his antics after the loss at UFC 264 were, there’s a market of people that love that.
His star power has shown no sign of waning in the face of his bad results. He promises entertainment and that’s what you get.
For a man that earned $180 million in the past year, what’s left for him to do in UFC? Where should he go next?
He could run it back with Poirier. The Diamond will take on Charles Oliveira for the lightweight title next and McGregor, given his standing in the UFC, could walk into a title shot if Poirier emerges victorious.
If that doesn’t happen, McGregor has an extremely dangerous route to the title once more. Things might not go well against fighters like Justin Gaethje, Michael Chandler or difficult propositions like Islam Makhachev.
Big money fights would see him take on guys like Tony Ferguson – who is also on a losing streak – or complete the trilogy with Nate Diaz.
Anything outside of that, he’s fighting guys far hungrier than him and his legacy could suffer. If he takes on either of Diaz and Ferguson – guys in their mid to late thirties who he could plausibly beat, then he can assess where he’s at after that.
McGregor claims the comeback is on after the successful surgery on his broken leg, but, on the surface, he has more to lose than gain getting back into the octagon at this point.