Just a few short years ago, Connor McGregor seemed unstoppable. The Irish fighter had become a household name and a global sensation, famed as much for his fighting prowess as his larger-than-life, often provocative personality.
However, McGregor’s star has waned in recent years. A string of controversial, high-profile incidents out of the octagon were coupled with a string of losses within it, leading many to believe that the Irishman’s time as the king of MMA was up. As McGregor prepares for a return to the Octagon for the first time since 2021, is this the sign of a desperate man? Or does McGregor still have something left to give? Find out here.
McGregor’s UFC Career
McGregor’s first bout under the UFC brand was back in 2013. He went unbeaten for the next three years, a run that saw him knock Jose Aldo out within 13 seconds, an incredible defeat that saw McGregor make headlines around the world and propelled him to stardom.
However, it was in his very next fight that McGregor tasted defeat for the first time under the UFC brand, succumbing to a choke hold at the hands of Nate Diaz. Despite this setback, McGregor went on to get revenge five months later, beating Diaz on the judges’ scorecards in a tight and technical contest.
After winning his next bout against Eddie Alvarez, McGregor was set to face Khabib Nurmagomedov. A fearsome fighter with a formidable reputation, pundits and fans saw that as McGregor’s toughest challenge yet, and the build-up was particularly hostile and acrimonious.
Khabib got the better of McGregor, beating him by submission in the fourth round. With two losses in four fights, it seemed like McGregor’s era of dominance was over.
He made a comeback fight two years later, knocking out Donald Cerrone in an emphatic fashion. However, McGregor went on to lose his next two bouts, both facing Dustin Poirier, the final one of which saw McGregor stretchered out of the octagon with a brutal leg injury.
McGregor Plans a Return to the Octagon
Conor McGregor last stepped into the octagon on the 10th of July 2021. Since then, rumours of his return have been rife, and for someone who is so popular among those looking to bet on MMA in South Africa, fans have been desperate to see him make a comeback.
Earlier this year, news that MMA fans had all been waiting for finally broke. The UFC revealed that talks were taking place about a potential clash between McGregor and American fighter Michael Chandler.
Details about the bout have been scarce, but it is believed it will be a welterweight clash, which means Chandler will have to bulk up considerably to face the Irishman.
Beyond that, however, we don’t know very much. There has been no confirmed date or venue, although it’s thought the fight could take place in September of this year.
What’s in it for McGregor?
McGregor has already achieved so much in the sport. He was the first fighter in history to hold simultaneous belts across more than one division, with both the featherweight and the lightweight title.
He was a driving force behind the mainstream popularization of MMA and has been instrumental in the success of the sport. What more could McGregor hope to achieve?
If he could get past Chandler, McGregor would be directly in line for a shot at the welterweight title, currently held by the UK’s Leon Edwards.
If McGregor could claim this belt, he would be the first three-weight champion in the history of the UFC and would truly cement himself as one of the sport’s all-time greats.
Is this a Desperate Leap?
The career of a combat sportsman is a short one. Age catches up fast, and fights can take their toll. Neither McGregor nor Chandler are in their prime. McGregor is 34, while Chandler is 36. This might level the playing field somewhat, but could McGregor's previous leg injury have a part to play?
In his final fight with Dustin Poirier, McGregor fractured his tibia and fibula. Could this injury limit some of the Irishman’s movement and firepower and make him an easier target?
McGregor might not be the star he once was, but he is still undoubtedly a dangerous fighter. A clash with Chandler may prove one fight too far, but it will be McGregor’s last shot at glory, an opportunity he will certainly not pass up.
While he might not have the fighting skills he displayed in his youth, McGregor still has incredible pulling power. No matter what happens, a clash with Chandler will certainly be a blockbuster event.