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Conor McGregor stepped back in the Octagon last night after more than a year away, and unfortunately, his return to the UFC did not go as planned. The Irishman was knocked out in the second round by Dustin Poirier, and now, many are questioning what the right next move is for the most popular fighter in mixed martial arts history, given he’s lost 2 of his last 3 fights and 3 of his last 6. Some are pushing for him to try and immediately avenge this loss by fighting Poirier, while others are suggesting he open the Jake Paul door. So, what’s the right move? Let’s talk out the possibilities.
The most important question after any fighter loses, especially any fighter that’s 32, is whether or not he looks washed. Conor McGregor does not look washed. He looked pretty good during the first round and certainly did not look overmatched until he got stunned in the second. That being said, there’s a big difference between being able to hang with good competition and being on the most elite level of the sport. The jury is still out as to whether McGregor can ever get back to the truly elite level he was at several years ago.
In a social media post after the loss, McGregor referred to a “trilogy”, clearly indicating he would like to get back in the ring with Poirier. That seems like the most direct possible path moving forward, but it’s a little more complicated than that. Khabib Nurmagomedov, who beat both McGregor and Poirier, recently retired, vacating the UFC Lightweight Championship. Going into last night, most people expected the winner of McGregor and Poirier to compete for that vacated belt. I’m not sure it makes sense for that fight to feature McGregor since he just lost. So, would Poirier pass up a shot at the belt to finish this trilogy?
And what about Jake Paul? Journalists were apparently told no Jake Paul questions prior to media availability this past week. Dana White has also made it clear he does not want the fight to happen, but Conor McGregor has opened the sideshow door before. He reportedly made more than $100M by stepping into a boxing ring with Floyd Mayweather a few years ago. Now Mayweather is set to box Jake’s brother Logan Paul in February in a fight that should earn both of them a huge payday. A bout between McGregor and Jake Paul would likewise be a huge revenue earner, and it would almost certainly allow him to put a win on the board. Paul himself has also made it clear for months how badly he wants it to happen, even insulting McGregor's wife.
But at 32 years old, McGregor probably doesn’t have a lot of time left for elite fights. If he were to take 6 months out of his schedule to train for another boxing match, the chances of him going back to UFC and being able to go on a multi-fight run to the point of getting another shot at the title he lost are very remote, although a match could happen sooner than that, I suppose, since Paul has said he wants to fight in April.
So, I guess the question ultimately comes down to what he wants most. Does he want to avenge this loss and push UFC boss Dana White to try and make that happen? Does he want to try someone else in the UFC, hopefully win and then try to fight Poirier who might have the belt at that point? Or does he want to chase the money and potentially make a fortune throwing fists with Jake Paul in a sideshow that would generate millions of pay-per-view buys and allow him to keep a really healthy percentage of the gross?
What do you think? What would you like to see Conor McGregor do next? Let us know your thoughts by sounding off in the poll below or hitting up the comment section…