Say what you will, but Conor McGregor strutted out in a pair of boxing shorts and fought the greatest boxer of our generation. His head was wobbled, a little bit of his pride may have shrunk, but his wallet got nice and fat. Not only that, but everyone is wondering just what in the world McGregor will do next. He made his first major appearance last night, where he named at least seven potential opponents. When you’re the man who has it all, sometimes it’s hard to figure out what you want. However, after reaching the pinnacle of money fights, McGregor is setting his sights on going back to basics. He wants to correct the wrongs that fans blame him for causing: Making the title mean something again.
“Look, I’ve got the UFC title to defend and that means something to me. I will defend that world title. Nathan [Diaz] is there. He’s trying to come in here and make all of these demands. If he starts pricing himself out of an event, I probably will defend against the person who wins this interim belt, or someone along that line to legitimize it again. I’ve already gone from the highest of the high in terms of a money fight. Now, the question I always get is about defending the belt and legitimizing the sport and the rankings. Maybe now it would be a good time for me to go and do that and shut that side up. We’ll see what happens in the fight next week [between Tony Ferguson and Kevin Lee]. I hope they make the walk. I’ve seen it so many times where they slip on the bleedin’ soap getting out of the bath.”
“I’ve done the money fight. I’ve done the pinnacle of a money fight – I fought for the money belt – the WBC money belt it was called. In my head now, I’m very interested in seeing this [Tony Ferguson and Kevin Lee] fight this weekend and to see how the lightweight title picture pans out and to go in and correct that whole situation. That’s where my thoughts are. I also have history with Nate. It’s 1-1 and that has to happen. It will happen. But the more I spend time away from it, I think I’ve already done all of the money fights. Now, to legitimize a title and to bring it back, I could potentially bring it back.” – Conor McGregor said in his Glasgow appearance last night.
This is a complete 180 that may surprise the fans. After all, Conor McGregor specifically mentioned ‘shutting that side up’ that criticizes him for Super Mario Bros. 3 warp whistling to whoever he wants to fight. After making more money than he could ever dream of in one boxing match, he could return to the old fire he had when he first entered the UFC. After knocking out both the featherweight and lightweight champions, what’s left to say about McGregor if he comes back and takes out the winner at UFC 216 and unifies the lightweight title?
Of course, the questions about how he would do against Fighter A and Fighter B will always be there, but they never stop. Georges St-Pierre was the idealized version of what a champion should be, but it was always about who’s next. A pressure that eventually drove him away from the sport. Maybe McGregor is made to roam around weight classes like BJ Penn, maybe he just draws too much money for the UFC to keep him pinned down. Regardless of all that, McGregor seems like he’s back and well, it just makes MMA more exciting.
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 9/30/2017.