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The MMA world was abuzz this past weekend when UFC 257 ended with a shocking turn of events, as #2-ranked lightweight contender Dustin “The Diamond” Poirier obliterated former UFC lightweight champion “The Notorious” Conor McGregor inside of two action-packed rounds.
Poirier’s investment in leg attacks, punctuated by a steady stream of calf kicks, paid dividends, stifling McGregor’s movement enough to make him vulnerable to punches. And once he had McGregor hurt along the Octagon fence, Poirier delivered a volley of debilitating haymakers.
A short right hand dropped the Irishman, and a downward strike sealed the deal at the 2:32 mark of round two. It was the finest victory of Poirier’s career, and one that will define his time in the Octagon when all is said and done.
McGregor took the loss in stride, giving props to Poirier for his performance. McGregor’s performance was solid as well. However, Poirier was able to take McGregor’s best shots without so much as flinching, and the Lafayette, Louisiana native’s inherent toughness made all the difference.
It’s hard to say where McGregor will go from here. There aren’t many options left for the two-division former world champion. But if he does decide to continue on with his fighting career, here are a few directions he can move towards.
Potential Nurmagomedov, Pacquiao fights off the table
Of course, McGregor’s loss means that a couple of fights don’t exactly make sense right now. A rematch with reigning UFC lightweight champion Khabib “The Eagle” Nurmagomedov is all but impossible, and a blockbuster megafight with eight-division boxing world champion Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao is certainly off the table.
McGregor, who famously fought boxing mega-legend Floyd Mayweather in 2017, has enough of a following in boxing for some interesting fights, with a Jake Paul showdown specifically coming to mind. Paul has repeatedly called out McGregor, as well as teammate Dillon Danis, for a meeting inside the squared circle.
While a fight against the Youtube superstar would surely generate a lot of revenue, it will pretty much kill off McGregor’s fighting career for good, as he would be reduced to taking circus fights.
Continue with MMA career
The most likely and most favorable scenario for McGregor would be to continue with his career in the UFC’s lightweight division. Although he may not be “levels above” the competition like he had claimed, McGregor is still a force to be reckoned with. Fans could argue that McGregor was actually winning the fight against Poirier at the time of the stoppage.
There are so many intriguing matchups for McGregor at this point. Of course, a third and final fight against Poirier is still a possibility, and “The Diamond” confirmed as much in his post-fight interview.
“I’ll certainly regroup. I’ll regroup and pick myself up, you know what I mean. Get up off the floor and go again. Styles make fights. There are many great stylistic matchups (for me) out there,” McGregor said in the post-event press conference.
“There are many good matchups for me. I’ll adopt a different approach for the trilogy with Dustin. Those leg kicks are not to be messed with. That low calf kick, I’ve never experienced that. That was a good one. I need to switch it up and keep that at bay. I have a lot more weapons that I didn’t get to show. It wasn’t my night.”
Former UFC lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos from the EVOLVE Fight Team is one possibility. McGregor was already supposed to face Dos Anjos back in 2016 at UFC 196, but that fight got scrapped after the latter fell to injury. McGregor expressed his intent to face Dos Anjos a few months ago, and after the fight with Poirier, Dos Anjos couldn’t stop himself from taking a dig at the Irishman.
“I think I would retire Conor with my kicks #UFC257,” Dos Anjos tweeted.
A showdown against former Bellator lightweight champion “Iron” Michael Chandler, who knocked out #6-ranked Dan Hooker in the co-main event at UFC 257 is also an intriguing matchup. Chandler called out McGregor, Poirier, and Nurmagomedov in his post-fight bit.
The streaking Charles Oliveira, arguably the hottest lightweight in the division right now, who is currently riding an eight-fight win streak, also offers a salivating proposition. And then there’s the former interim lightweight titleholder, Justin “The Highlight” Gaethje.
McGregor beating any of these names instantly makes him relevant again.
After the event, UFC President Dana White said McGregor would either continue fighting, or walk away for good. Let’s explore that other path now, the path to retirement.
McGregor has had multiple reported retirements in the past, with bombshell announcements coming typically through his official Twitter account. While the Irishman is a master promoter and knows his way around social media, the next time he announces his retirement from fighting could be the last.
There aren’t really many avenues McGregor can explore in his fighting career at this point. Having amassed a massive wealth from his professional career across MMA and boxing, “The Notorious” has already generated enough revenue to extend beyond his lifetime.
His net worth currently stands at $48 million, and he has enough going on outside of fighting, with his Proper No. 12 whisky company, to keep him busy. He certainly doesn’t need to keep fighting, at least from a financial standpoint.
Luckily for fans, McGregor squashed the idea of retirement in the post-event presser.
“I’m very, very grateful for the support I’ve received. It’s got me up off the floor many times throughout my competitive life and my personal life. I’m proud and honored to come here before you and put a show on for the people of the world,” said McGregor.
“The competitive fire is still within me. I will regroup and adjust, and come back. I’ve done it before, and I’ll do it again. Don’t write me off just yet. I’ll make the adjustments and keep moving. Anything can happen in this game. I’ll get back and get healthy. I’ve got to a great place in my body, physically, and I’m going to continue to grow on that. I’ll get back in training, my cardiovascular work, my strength work, my skills work, and just keep living the martial arts life.”
Do you want to see McGregor back in the Octagon this year? If so, against who?