What does 2021 hold for Conor McGregor?

UFC 189: World Tour Press Conference Dub by Vinicius Pescador, on Flickr
UFC 189: World Tour Press Conference Dub” (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) by Vinicius Pescador

As comebacks go, it wasn’t the most surprising news of all time. Conor McGregor’s return to the octagon was confirmed in November 2020 and the feisty Irishman has a number of targets in his sights.

At the age of 32, he’s by no means a veteran in this sport but there are serious questions over his ability to compete at the highest level and to win championships after this latest hiatus. So what does 2021 hold for Conor McGregor and can he really be a title contender once again?

First Up

The first hurdle for McGregor is already known with confirmed news that he will take on Dustin Poirier at UFC 257. As a re-entry into professional MMA, it’s expected to be something of an easy ride with the sportsbooks listing McGregor as a red-hot 2/5 favourite. Opponent Poirier is back at 2/1 and that’s a relatively big gap in an encounter with just two possible outcomes.

With Legalbetting providing access to those odds, along with a choice of bookmakers offering a range of sign up promotions, Connor McGregor would seem to be the obvious pick and the tale of the tape tends to back that up. The Irishman returns to the Octagon with a 22-4 record while his 31 year old opponent currently sits at 26-7. When we think of the calibre of some of McGregor’s former opponents, those returns are put into further perspective and it seems unthinkable that the favourite would lose here.

Manny Rematch?

True MMA fans may have reacted with dismay to the news that Conor McGregor was looking ahead to a bout with Manny Pacquiao. In the boxing ring, the Irishman is just as combative but this is seen by a number of observers as a mere sideshow. Back in 2017, McGregor enjoyed a lucrative payday as he was taught a lesson by the ageing, yet undefeated Floyd Mayweather.

At the age of 42 and currently working through a six year term as a Senator in the Philippines, it’s surely debatable whether Pacquiao could be tempted back into the ring and there are feelings that any potential fight wouldn’t attract as much attention as the McGregor v Mayweather match up. 

On the first point, the boxer is reported as being ‘desperate’ to make this happen which seems puzzling for some. As regards the purse, McGregor’s former opponent Floyd Mayweather has warned that the fight would not be as lucrative as the 2017 match as he is the bigger draw.

The Best Next Move?

Additional rumours persist that Conor McGregor is being lined up for a potential $50 million fight with Jake Paul. As a YouTuber with a 2-0 record in the boxing ring, Paul has publicly called out ‘Notorious’ with the suggestion that he’s running scared. As the man with the better record inside a boxing ring, Paul has a lot to say but is it necessarily wise to step into the ring with such an experienced fighter?

There are so many different combat sports that pro sportsmen and women have that potential to diversify. Tyson Fury has split his time between boxing and WWE and a fighter with Conor McGregor’s reputation will have no shortage of similar offers.

The issue for MMA fans is that this is all a sideshow and, if Conor McGregor has anything left to offer the UFC then he should concentrate on his exploits within the octagon. There’s time enough to consider big paydays against retired boxers and internet personalities but for now, it would be encouraging to see the man known as ‘Notorious’ focus on MMA and show us if the comeback is worth following.

Severe MMA Staff

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