Last week, one of Ireland’s most influential and successful sportspeople announced his retirement as Conor McGregor, a former featherweight and lightweight champion, stepped away from the sport that had made him a household name. ‘The Notorious’ had not fought since his eventful loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov, but his decision to end his career at 30 years old has shocked many in the MMA world.
McGregor made his debut in the octagon in 2013 and marked it with a victory over Marcus Brimage. The Dubliner secured several other victories in the following year, eventually leading to a championship match against Chad Mendes in Nevada. McGregor won that bout and was awarded the Featherweight title. In one of his most memorable moments, he knocked out José Aldo after 13 seconds in the featherweight unification match, to become the first person to be the undisputed featherweight champion. It was McGregor’s 7th consecutive UFC victory, and he announced his intention to move up to the lightweight division. His first loss came in this division at the hands of Nate Diaz, but never one to dwell on his failures, McGregor demanded a rematch and, in due course, secured a revenge victory over Diaz in 2016. 2016 continued to be an eventful one for the Irishman as he secured the lightweight title after defeating Eddie Alvarez, and became the first UFC fighter to hold two titles in different weight classes simultaneously. However in November, due to his inactivity in the division, it was initially announced that McGregor had vacated the Featherweight Championship, therefore promoting José Aldo to undisputed champion. McGregor’s coach then later confirmed further reports which stated that McGregor had actually been stripped of the title.
Things never really picked up again for McGregor on the fighting side from this point. He announced time off to be with his new-born child, and promoted a boxing showdown against Floyd Mayweather. McGregor earned nearly €57 million from the fight, which ended in his loss by TKO. In 2017, due to inactivity he was stripped of his lightweight title. And upon his return in 2018 against the aforementioned Khabib, he was defeated and things turned ugly afterwards, as both fighters were handed suspensions.
So, is Conor McGregor actually gone from the world of UFC for good? It would appear so for the time being, but his reputation does indeed proceed him. There is a fair share of sceptics who would point to this being a tactic of leaning on the UFC to get his way, as he has only fought once since the UFC was taken over by PR firm Endeavor, spearheaded by Ari Emmanuel, who is reputable for being a tough negotiator.
If indeed this is the last we are to see of ‘The Notorious’, he leaves behind a legacy of inside and outside the ring spectacles. His unique fighting style made him one of the brightest stars in the discipline and he is undoubtedly one of the finest fighters of the last decade. While his actions outside the ring were often ludicrous and undignified, he has earned a place in MMA records.