Conor McGregor is without a doubt the golden boy of the UFC – will this change once the former king, Georges St-Pierre comes home?
The career of Conor McGregor is like nothing ever seen in sports.
Having relied on social security checks in his home of Ireland less than 5 years ago, McGregor is arguably the biggest name in global sports. In an interview with The Guardian, “The Notorious” opened up on the impact of his success:
“It’s absolutely insane,” McGregor says as we reflect on his anonymity when, in early 2013, he was still claiming benefits in Dublin before his first UFC contract. “Who has climbed to the pinnacle of the fight game like this? Nobody from Ireland. And to do it in the time I’ve done it, so quick? It’s mind-blowing. But I never forget the struggles. I never forget where I came from. I never ever forget the hard times. I pinch myself because I am surrounded by luxury. But make no mistake – it’s luxury built on sacrifice.”
“After school you go to college or get a trade. You don’t sit around doing nothing. My parents dragged me out of bed but I was unsure what I wanted to do. Then my mother found me this place in the plumbing industry. It’s weird how society works. Rather than allowing you time to find the thing you love and can pursue with complete conviction, we’re told: ‘You must work – no matter how much you dislike it.’ I just felt I was going to be the person I wanted to be, regardless of what anyone said.”
And that he did. McGregor’s ascendance has been as spectacular as has ever been seen in MMA. In the same interview, the Irishman predicted that he would meet Floyd Mayweather Jr. – although his insistence on knocking out the boxing legend was wide of the mark:
“In a real fight, I would dismantle him in seconds. Ronda [Rousey] would dismantle him in seconds – 100%. When you don’t know how to grapple you don’t stand a chance. For us, it’s like playing with a baby. People who don’t understand the sport cannot understand how vulnerable they are. There are always clinches and Ronda is a judo Olympian. She would throw Floyd on his head in a second. Me? I would knock him out. Cold.”
Why would he [Mayweather] take me on?” McGregor asks. “But if you’re talking about a fight that could generate half a billion – it’s this one. There’s never going to be another boxing fight like this. Only a cross-style match between Mayweather and me could generate that kind of interest and revenue. So maybe it could happen. I would certainly be up for it. I am capitalising on every single opportunity. It’s a strong word, one of my favourite words: capitalise. I’m ready to capitalise on everything.”
It s strange to look back and see just how much of what McGregor predicted actually came true. The Irishman has just come off a record-breaking mega fight with Mayweather and sits on a net worth far in excess of $100 million. Although he cuts a contentious shadow in the world of MMA, there is no doubt that he is the biggest attraction in the sport.
In 2018, McGregor will surely be back to defend his title for the first time against a long time foe in Nate Diaz. When the clock hits 00:00 on January , 2018, we will also know just how much traction the returning legend Georges St-Pierre will carry into the new year. “GSP” will face off against incumbent middleweight champion Michael Bisping in Nov. 2017, and should he capture gold (making him just the fourth two weight world champion in UFC history) McGregor may have a rival for pay-per-views as well as in the octagon.
St-Pierre has announced that he is planning on his second term in the promotion being a fruitful one. Targeting “big money fights” is the top of his agenda, with a run at becoming the first three weight world champion in the UFC a close second. Should the Canadian overcomeom the Brit, there is a massive chance that his next target would be Ireland’s own in McGregor. In terms of interest and marketability, this would likely be the biggest fight in MMA history.
2018, let’s make it happen…