Conor McGregor is in a tricky spot.
He has now lost two of his last three fights in MMA. If you look outside of MMA and count the time he tried his hand at boxing Floyd Mayweather, he has lost three of his last four fights. However, if you take a closer look that may not be as bad as it seems.
For one, Floyd Mayweather is considered by many to be the greatest boxer of all time. Conor went 10 rounds with him and prior to that, had never competed in a professional boxing match in his life. That lightens the loss a little, if not completely.
Then there’s his loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov. Many consider Khabib to be the greatest mixed martial artist of all time. Conor lasted four rounds against him and actually won one of those rounds. No other UFC opponent has ever won a round against Khabib.
Finally, there’s his most recent loss to Dustin Poirier. Many consider Dustin to be the greatest lightweight in the division right now. Conor McGregor is not losing to scrubs. The problem for McGregor is that his air of invincibility is now gone.
Conor’s meteoric rise in the UFC was like nothing we have ever seen. He called his shots all along the way as he tore through his division at a frenetic pace. He was deadly in the octagon and deadly on the microphone. Not only was his presence impossible to ignore, but he often shook his opponents before ever stepping into the cage with them. He is the highest selling UFC fighter in history. When Conor does anything, people pay attention.
Part of what made him such a polarizing fighter was the fact that nobody could beat him. Then out of nowhere he lost and the world was shocked. Then he later lost again… And again… And again.
Are we seeing the fall of a great? Is Conor McGregor on his way out? How important is the air of invincibility to his popularity? If we pay attention to his pay-per-view numbers, it appears the answer is “not at all.”
If you look at the UFC and their top six highest selling pay-per-views of all time, you will find Conor McGregor’s name on the main event for each. The top three of those six, came after McGregor’s first loss. If you want to go a little further, you can look at his boxing match with Floyd Mayweather. That match had 4.3 million PPV buys and generated more than $500 million dollars in revenue. It is the second most lucrative fight in history, which also came after McGregor was no longer undefeated.
Although the sales numbers do not appear to be going down, the number of losses is definitely going up. Not only that but this latest loss to Dustin Poirier just felt different. Although McGregor has a cult following, many of which are fanatical and intensely faithful, it will be interesting to see how many continue to stay the course.
If Conor is concerned about legacy and preserving his reputation as an elite, a win in his next outing is imperative. If his focus is only on generating lots of money, he still finds himself in a position that most fighters can only dream of. It appears that winning outcomes do not matter. Regardless of losses, regardless of invincibility, regardless of anything, the masses continue to tune in.
As such, we will get our next chance to watch him fight on July 10th, when he faces Dustin Poirier once more for the trilogy match. This one is for all the marbles. Will Conor get back in the winning column? Will Dustin shock the world once more?
One thing is for sure. We as fans will eagerly fork over our money once again. We will watch enthusiastically, we will scream at the television and as always, we will love every bit of it.