Conor McGregor comported himself well against Floyd Mayweather during their megafight over the weekend. The Irishman didn’t embarrass himself, lasted 10 rounds and seemed game for most of the bout. That said, any thoughts of McGregor continuing his career as a boxer should be thrown out the window right now. “The Notorious” needs to return to mixed martial arts where he belongs.
Good for McGregor that he was able to get a massive payday out of the circus that happened over the weekend. As I said, he wasn’t embarrassed, but by the middle of the fight it was clear he was years of training away from being a viable boxer.
Any of the top 10 fighters at 154 or 147 pounds would have done exactly what Mayweather did to him. In fact, those other, younger, hungrier boxers likely would have finished things more quickly. Unless he can somehow convince Mayweather to help him to another nine-figure payday in the form of a rematch, there is no reason for McGregor to ever box again.
That means the 29-year-old UFC lightweight champion needs to head back to mixed martial arts and there is a lot of money to be made. While he’ll never come close to ever earning what he did against Mayweather, McGregor can now negotiate bigger purses and pay-per-view percentages from UFC president Dana White. He should rake in the dough as long as he remains relevant.
Right now there’s an obvious fight on the table, and that would be finishing his trilogy with Nate Diaz. The younger Diaz brother and McGregor split their first two fights, with Diaz taking the first via rear-naked choke in the second round, and McGregor taking the second with a majority decision. Now that he’s clearly the UFC’s biggest draw, McGregor could probably force the third fight to take place in his territory at lightweight (155) instead of welterweight (170) where the first two happened.
Aside from the Diaz rubber-match there are clearly other fights on the table. A fight with legend Georges St-Pierre (likely at welterweight) after the Canadian is done battling Michael Bisping seems destined to happen. McGregor vs. GSP would likely be the biggest fight in MMA history.
Meanwhile, top-ranked lightweight contender Khabib Nurmagomedov is lurking. The undefeated Russian is 8-0 in the since his UFC debut in 2012, and was 16-0 before that. He’s knocking on the door of a title shot and may need one before long.
If McGregor was feeling greedy, he could look to become the UFC’s first three-division champion by demanding a fight against welterweight champ Tyron Woodley. UFC featherweight champ Max Holloway could make noise about moving up to lightweight to challenge McGregor, and a rematch with former featherweight champ Jose Aldo is certainly possible.
There are plenty of fights out there for McGregor in the UFC. I don’t buy that he’s looking to retire. I think this foray into boxing came because he saw a singular payday that meant he could pick and choose his MMA fights for the remainder of his career. If White and the UFC demand he fight an opponent he has no interest in, he is now in a financial position to walk away at any time. The Mayweather payday will act as an opt-out clause for his career.
That said, McGregor is a fighter and a showman. He wants to put on the biggest events combat sports have ever seen. Diaz and St-Pierre seem like the next logical steps for him.