What Does a Conor McGregor Return Mean for the UFC?
Conor McGregor is back making headlines for the UFC again. He announced early Thursday morning that he will be making his return to the UFC in early 2020 and will tear through three fights in succession according to him.
According to McGregor he has already been in talks with the UFC to set his return date for January 18th, 2020. He claims that the UFC already knows the opponent but he isn't going to share who it is. Those claims have since been refuted by Dana White, but what is clearly evident is that McGregor is incredibly close to a return.
In his press conference he also detailed what his future in the UFC should hold. Following his January fight, he stated he wanted to take on Nate Diaz for the Bad Mother Fucker title (a plan that may change depending on whether or not Nate even competes for that title). After that, he said he would like to take on Khabib Nurmagomedov in a rematch of their tilt at UFC 229 last October.
It's a list of fights that made perfect sense when Conor was at his peak, but after a full year in "retirement", does it really even matter what fights Conor takes anymore?
There was a point in time where Conor was far and away the biggest name that the UFC has ever had. In fact, he is still a part of five of the six highest grossing pay-per-view fights in UFC history. On top of that, his boxing bout against Floyd Mayweather even became the second most purchased pay-per-view event of all time. Needless to say, the guy is a superstar.
Things have changed however since his last fight with Khabib. The once pound for pound best in the sport was dominated by the Russian brawler in what was a blood bath inside and outside of the octagon. While the fight was a little embarrassing for the fighting Irishman, it wasn't really the main reason his fall from grace began.
It all started in the lead up to UFC 229. Things got real personal real quick between the two fighters long before the fight was even close to happening. McGregor sort of lost his mind, even for his standards; throwing dolleys at the bus carrying Khabib, going after Khabib's family in media events, and even making things a racial issue at points. It turned a lot of McGregor's fanbase against him, and into the corner of Nurmagomedov.
Conor enters this stint with the UFC in unfamiliar territory. He's the villain, yes, but he's no longer "the man" in the UFC anymore. Even UFC President Dana White has been on record as saying this is now Khabib's league, and that Conor has a long way to go before he is back on top.
His first fight is rumoured to potentially feature "Cowboy" Donald Cerrone, a man who is a tough fight for anyone, win or lose. He then wants to take on Nate Diaz, a blood bath for him in his first two fights. Then to finish off with Khabib, a man who put him to shame last October. It's going to be a year full of real tough bouts for "Notorious" but if he can succeed, it's a road map straight back to the top.
So how does this polarizing man re-enter the league? Is he still the most viewed fight on the roster? Or have people given up on one of the all time greats? Only time will tell. One thing's for sure, things are about to get wild for the UFC in 2020.