No title at stake, but Conor McGregor’s fighting legacy will be on the line at UFC 264

Earlier this week as suggested Conor McGregor– –Dustin Poirier The trilogy fight continued in the right direction. I wrote a title on social media that read, “For all marbles.”

Well the lettering rubbed some people the wrong way. How could I say this is for all marbles when a UFC belt is not in place? Some went so far as to say there are no stakes because this battle to complete the trilogy has more to do with money than figuring out who is the best lightweight in the world. Poirier might have had the chance to fight for the belt, but opted for the more lucrative payday against the biggest star in MMA history.

The UFC returns to ABC once again as Kevin Holland hopes to recover from a loss three weeks ago when he faced up-and-coming competitor Marvin Vettori. Holland won five times in 2020 and he hopes to avoid the 2-0 in order to start 2021.

UFC Fight Night: Holland versus Vettori
• Saturday April 10th, UFC Apex, Las Vegas
• Main card: 3pm ET on ABC / ESPN +
• Preliminary round: 12 noon ET on ABC / ESPN +

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The reaction was fair, but let me tell you why there is so much going on in this trilogy fight. The series is 1-1, and I don’t foresee a scenario in which McGregor and Poirier will ever battle past UFC 264 again on July 10th. As for their rivalry, so do all marbles.

But, secondly, it’s not great to say that the entire history of McGregor’s athletic career could be at stake in this fight.

From that moment on, what would we say about McGregor the fighter? Not the superstar. Not the entertainer. If he were to retire now, how would we define his athletic performance?

Conor McGregor (left) and Dustin Poirier will meet for the third time on July 10th at UFC 264. Jeff Bottari / Zuffa LLC

His UFC record is 10-3.

He’s 7-0 as a featherweight, 1-2 as a lightweight, and 2-1 as a welterweight.

His record in UFC championship bouts is 3-1.

This is a phenomenal UFC career. It’s a career that many martial artists can only dream of from a competitive point of view, not to mention the millions and millions of dollars McGregor has pocketed.

However, here is the question. Is this a career that McGregor would have been happy with when he first got to the UFC in 2013? If you showed McGregor this résumé, would he have been satisfied? A record under 500 with low weight. A slightly better welterweight record, despite all three of those fights – two against Nate Diaz and one against Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone – came against fighters who have spent most of their careers at lightweight.

Would he have been satisfied with two UFC championships but not with a single title defense? Would he have been pleased to know that one of his slight losses was directed at his arch-rival? Khabib Nurmagomedov, who would claim to be the best lightweight in the world while McGregor was technically in that department?

2 relatives

I can tell you now that the 2013 version of McGregor would not have been happy. In fact, I would go so far as to suspect that he would consider this resume a failure compared to his expectations.

And that probably sounds remarkably harsh, doesn’t it? But that was and is McGregor’s mindset – that he’s the best fighter on the planet. Even in defeat, whether at Diaz in 2016, Nurmagomedov in 2018, Poirier in 2021, and even boxing for Floyd Mayweather in 2017, McGregor has always handled setbacks well. Usually within hours of losing, he identified the reasons for the loss and pursued rematches. Because the idea that someone is better than him has never been well received.

Even with an MMA record of 1-2 for the past 3½ years, McGregor continued to hold his own as the best fighter in the world, and there were reasons – whether you subscribe or not – to give him the edge of the doubt.

He took a year to make nine figures in a boxing match against Mayweather, which anyone would have done. He took on the monumental task of fighting Nurmagomedov in his first fight after that sacking, and lost by submission in the fourth round. And he wanted to be active in 2020 but couldn’t do so due to the travel restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. After defeating Cerrone in 40 seconds on January 18, 2020, McGregor didn’t fight again until he was knocked out to Poirier in the second round on January 23. After that, McGregor said you couldn’t compete as a “part-time” fighter. “

McGregor said his inactivity the year before the January 23 loss to Poirier played a role in the loss. This is not accepted as a factor this time. Jeff Bottari / Zuffa LLC

These may sound like excuses for McGregor’s losses, but they are legitimate factors considering he’s battling the best in the world.

But if McGregor loses to Poirier for the second straight year on July 10th, there will be no silver lining. History will remember that Poirier was better. History will remember that McGregor claimed the best featherweight in the world in late 2015, but didn’t even have a win record for the next five years.

He will have a lot of money and will be remembered as a superstar who changed the game despite having had some legal issues outside the cage. But he will not be remembered as one of the greatest fighters. And I still really believe McGregor wants this for herself. With that in mind, July 10th is marbles for everyone.

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