Conor McGregor Is Not Done, But His UFC Stay Is Over
Conor McGregor at one time was the equivalent to a lion at the zoo whilst in the UFC, a main-stay and one of the sole reasons for tuning in. You couldn’t envision him anywhere else and you watched UFC for his trash-talking and chin-checking. And if we’re being completely honest with ourselves McGregor has helped to shape the UFC we know and love today.
That being said, it feels like an age since the Notorious One has touched the tip of the mountain, or even looked remotely close to doing so. Some would make the claim that the man who brought us Proper No. 12 Whisky and OAP Boxing has come to the terminus of his journey.
I disagree, I believe McGregor has instead found himself at a cross-roads. For example, I have only recently revealed my belief that now is the time for the 50 in Mayweather’s 50-0 to lace up the gloves once again for a fight with YouTuber Jake Paul.
There are other options however, McGregor is a mega-star that even still has immense drawing power and marketability. You can say what you want about the guy, but his words generate money tenfold and as such he represents a valuable commodity in sport.
But where will his talent land next?
Once upon a time, it was unfathomable that someone like McGregor would head to any landscape in professional wrestling but WWE. But such is the way of life that AEW has emerged kicking and screaming as it represents the best alternative to the lacklustre product WWE churns out.
In WWE, Conor McGregor would have a plethora of dream matches tailor-made to his personality and experience. The first to pop to mind would be clashes with former UFC and Bellator fighters like Brock Lesnar, Bobby Lashley or Matt Riddle, where weight would be an issue in the octagon. The squared circle removes such complications and makes for an entirely new experience where McGregor would be the underdog against behemoths.
He could transition slowly with seasoned veterans like fellow countryman Sheamus, who said in an interview with Digital Spy that he thinks it’s “only a matter of time” when referring to joining WWE. My personal dream match would McGregor vs Finn Balor in an NXT Fight Pit Match, which takes inspiration from MMA in its concept.
But enter AEW, who since their inception have continued to rub shoulders with WWE and prove to be more than just another backyard territory. Recent reports claim that CM Punk is set for AEW, and this has to be a dream clash for McGregor. Punk was unable to make the desired impact in his two UFC outings, but in the domain of wrestling, we can have the trash-talking and promo work we missed out on.
Beyond that Bellator fighter Jake Hager also competes as part of Chris Jericho’s Inner Circle faction and even had a worked MMA rules match with Wardlow, so there still remains options even in the wrestling world.
In terms of style, McGregor has the trash-talking component of wrestling nailed. What would remain to be seen is his in-ring talent, but then we have seen names like Tyson Fury enter the ring with no prior experience, so long as he has a desire to learn the basics and works with a veteran then he should be good.
I think WWE is the best landing spot for someone like Conor McGregor. His superstar ego and desire to be the top-dog would mesh well with WWE’s desire to draw mainstream attention and it doesn’t remain out of the realms of possibility that we could see him lift gold again, much like Ronda Rousey before him.
Now now, hear me out. I’m not saying we go full-hog and stick him in the ring with Teofimo Lopez or Lomachenko. But in the world of exhibition and celebrity boxing, McGregor is a no brainer.
Say what you will about the fight but standing in the ring with Floyd Mayweather is a testament to the name-value McGregor possesses. As a boxing promoter to not tap into that value would be the equivalent of turning up to a buffet and having half a plate.
Reports in January suggested that McGregor was set for a sequel with Money Mayweather in the Middle-East, with the fight reportedly earning £662.5M in 2017. The only other fight that could make as much or more for Conor would be the hotly touted and then coldly abandoned clash with Manny Pacquiao, who again reportedly grossed £678M with his clash with Mayweather.
The most logical Queensbury rules battle for the former double-champ would however sit with either of the Paul brothers, Jake has been almost desperately trying to get this fight confirmed but Logan has only recently stepped in the ring with Mayweather in an exhibition bout.
Both fights would make a sizeable chunk of money and mainstream attention with Jake Paul making a point of targeting former MMA champions to bring to the ring. Logan Paul on the other hand seems to be set on a clash with Anderson Silva which would presumably take his name off the menu at least for this year.
Whomever Conor McGregor chooses to face, the fight would generate a significant profit margin and serve as a lower-risk alternative to his current career path.