Conor McGregor of Ireland poses on the scale during the UFC 257 weigh-in at Etihad Arena on UFC Fight Island on January 22, 2021 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (USA TODAY Sports)
Conor McGregor of Ireland poses on the scale during the UFC 257 weigh-in at Etihad Arena on UFC Fight Island on January 22, 2021 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (USA TODAY Sports)

‘You don’t get away by being inactive in this business’- How the Conor McGregor MMA show stalled

  • The Irishman was fighting for only the third time in the last five years. Since his rise to superstardom, McGregor’s activity inside the Octagon had started to decline. He fought 8 times in the 2014-2016 period. But in the next 4 years, McGregor had only 3 MMA fights.
By YASH BHATI
UPDATED ON JAN 24, 2021 12:48 PM IST

Everyone had waited for long, they had waited patiently but got what they wanted in 2021. The fighting community wanted to see Conor McGregor back in action. They wanted to see the MMA’s biggest ever superstar return to the Octagon. McGregor had demanded it continuously throughout 2020 and the wishes were fulfilled. Dana White booked a fight between McGregor and Dustin Poirier for the first PPV of 2021.

The Irishman was fighting for only the third time in the last five years. Since his rise to superstardom, McGregor’s activity inside the Octagon had started to decline. He fought 8 times in the 2014-2016 period. But in the next 4 years and before UFC 257, McGregor was involved in only 2 MMA fights. He had a boxing match against Floyd Mayweather Jr after his victory over Eddie Alvarez in 2016. And that maybe was the start of his decline in the MMA world.

He made a fortune with the Mayweather fight as it became the second-most bought combat fight in history with 4.3 million PPVs. He started his whisky company and had a lot of issues in his personal life. He came back to fight Khabib Nurmagomedov but it proved to be his second big loss in a row. Critics wondered if he still had it in him to get the title back. After a hiatus, McGregor returned to knockout Donald Cerrone inside 40 seconds in 2020. It again led to the feeling that the McGregor of old was coming back. Fans wanted to him fight an elite fighter in the lightweight division. So when it was announced that Conor is fighting former interim champion in Poirier, everyone wondered if a rematch with Khabib was possible. Mistake – they were overlooking Poirier.

Expectations were high, the excitement was through the roof as cameras followed McGregor wherever he went. However, there was a change in attitude of the Irishman. There was no more the trash-talking McGregor that we had witnessed in the past. The McGregor of 2021 looked far more composed and showed a lot of respect in the lead up to the fight for Poirier.

However, the McGregor of 2021 could not overshadow the McGregor of 2014 (when Conor beat Dustin in their first fight). He had promised to knock out Dustin inside 60 seconds. He tried but failed. Dustin wasn’t the fighter of 2014, he had matured, he had grown and he had something to prove.

Dustin soaked the pressure, took McGregor’s best shots, and negated the first-round burst of McGregor. It looked like by the second round that Conor had started to tire as Poirier’s calf kicks took their effects. First came a barrage of shots and then came the coup de grace. A right-hand hook knocked Conor down and it was the end.

Conor’s return to lightweight lasted only 7 minutes 30 seconds. For the first time in his MMA career, he had been knocked out. He laid flat at the Octagon for a few seconds as he recalled what happened during the fight. At the post-match press conference, McGregor said that his leg his completely dead. Maybe that was the reason.

Khabib also had a reason for McGregor's loss, which played perfectly with their heated rivalry.


However, the real reason was said by the Irishman himself after the fight.

“It’s hard to overcome inactivity over long periods of time,” McGregor said after the fight.

“That’s just it. I just wasn’t as comfortable as I needed to be. I have to dust it off and come back and that’s it and that’s what I will do.”

Three fights in four years is something not expected from a fighter. And maybe the inactivity inside the Octagon finally caught up with him.

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