Conor McGregor’s days as a feared warrior are gone, as it is now painfully apparent that he has lost his once-sharp fighting edge. The signs were worrisome to the A Man’s Guide team in the days leading up to his pummelling at the hands of the perennially under-rated Dustin Poirier. The overrated Irishman took time out of his training schedule to showcase his latest luxury purchase, a gaudy million dollar watch. McGregor was also needlessly chummy throughout the build-up to the fight. He heaped praise on his opponent, and there was none of the natural friction that might be expected prior to such a bout. McGregor’s social media accounts were also filled with loving images of his golden-haired son and the opulent trappings that now fill his life. His partner is expecting their third child, and the 2021 McGregor radiates the glow of a contented family man.
At the start of his ascent to the pinnacle of prizefighting, McGregor was a very different animal. He was a broke former plumbing apprentice with a huge chip on his shoulder. He brought a scary level of intensity to the fight game, harassing and intimidating his opponents remorselessly. Many such as Jose Aldo were broken mentally in the chaotic days leading up to a contest with Conor McGregor. He possessed a sharp wit, an air of invincibility, and an ability to expose the psychological fragilities of anyone that stood in his path. The approach was not always successful, and OG Stockton gangsta Nate Diaz brushed the McGregor bravado aside before choking him out like a chicken in their 2016 encounter.
The McGregor bluster was also wasted on Dagestani warrior Khabib Nurmagomedov, who laughed it off and manhandled the Irishman at will in 2018. The intimidation routine did, however, work on plenty of opponents that were rattled by the mental warfare and thus distracted from their game-plan. The young McGregor was hungry and ruthless with debts to pay and mansions to buy. He was a finisher who showed no mercy. But those days are now behind him. Leading up to his last two contests McGregor has been surprisingly genial and jovial toward his opponents. He had turned over a new leaf, perhaps through maturity, and appeared committed to a gentler outlook on life. Against Poirier, the contented, comfortable family man McGregor was simply no match when the cage door shut. He got caught with calf kicks, which was not unexpected given his propensity to put too much weight on his front leg. With his base of support compromise he was finished by an unanswered barrage of punches to the head. Getting punched in the head makes little sense when you have $100 million in the bank. There are better ways to spend your time.
So what now for the Irish former champ? UFC supremo, Dana White was a dejected man post-fight. The possibility of a mega-money rematch between McGregor and Nurmagomedov evaporated when Poirier finished his work. Khabib has already defeated Poirier and seems uninterested in the other talent currently filling the Lightweight division. The McGregor star power is now set to wane and he should consider hanging up the gloves. Prizefighting is a game for hungry, ambitious, youngsters with lightning reflexes and mouths to feed. Success breeds complacency. McGregor would be better served selling his whisky and raising his family at this juncture.
There is a lesson for us all in the beating endured by McGregor at UFC 257. Complacency is death by another name. It is imperative that we keep our defences sharp. The things we own, end up owning us. Spending a million bucks on a timepiece is just a stupid idea. We must all beware of hungrier competitors with more to play for.
McGregor will be remembered as a two-time champion that fundamentally changed the fight game. He rewrote the rules governing fighter remuneration. He demanded huge money and it was delivered. He elevated the UFC to a huge global audience. He possessed devastating knockout power in his left fist. But he lost the edge. It happens. There is no shame associated with the natural passage of time. To continue being clubbed senseless like a baby seal when he does not need the money would be pure folly.
McGregor came. He saw. He conquered. And he got paid.
Jackson Byrne – Editor at A Man’s Guide, Combat Sports Correspondent