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No title at stake, however Conor McGregor’s combating legacy can be on the road at UFC 264

Earlier this week, because the proposed Conor McGregor-Dustin Poirier trilogy struggle continued to pattern in the fitting route, I wrote a caption on social media that mentioned: “For all the marbles.”

Effectively, the caption rubbed some individuals the fallacious means. How might I say this one is for all of the marbles when there’s not a UFC belt hooked up? Some went as far as to say there are not any stakes hooked up, as a result of this struggle to finish the trilogy has extra to do with cash than determining who’s the perfect light-weight on the planet. Poirier might need had an opportunity to struggle for the belt, however he opted for the extra profitable payday towards the largest star in MMA historical past.

The response was truthful, however let me let you know why there may be a lot driving on this trilogy struggle. The sequence is 1-1, and I do not foresee a state of affairs through which McGregor and Poirier ever struggle once more previous UFC 264 on July 10. So so far as their rivalry is anxious, that is for all of the marbles.

However secondly, it is not outlandish to say that your complete narrative of McGregor’s athletic profession could possibly be on the road on this struggle.

As of this second, what would we are saying about McGregor the fighter? Not the famous person. Not the entertainer. If he had been to retire proper now, how would we outline his athletic achievement?

His UFC report is 10-3.

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

His report in UFC championship fights is 3-1.

To be clear, this can be a phenomenal UFC profession. It is a profession that loads of martial artists can solely dream of from a aggressive standpoint, to not point out the hundreds of thousands upon hundreds of thousands of {dollars} McGregor has pocketed.

This is the query, although. Is that this a profession McGregor would have been proud of again in 2013, when he first joined the UFC? If you happen to confirmed that McGregor this résumé, would he have been happy? A sub-.500 report at light-weight. A barely higher report at welterweight, though all three of these fights — two towards Nate Diaz and one towards Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone — got here towards fighters who spent most of their careers at light-weight.

Would he have been happy with two UFC championships however not a single title protection? Would he have been happy to know that certainly one of his light-weight losses got here towards archrival Khabib Nurmagomedov, who would assert himself as the perfect light-weight on the planet, whereas McGregor was technically in that division?

I can let you know proper now, the 2013 model of McGregor wouldn’t have been happy. I might even go as far as to guess he’d have a look at this résumé as one thing of a failure, in comparison with his expectations.

And that in all probability sounds remarkably harsh, proper? However that has been, and continues to be, McGregor’s state of mind — that he’s the perfect fighter on the planet. Even in defeat, whether or not it was to Diaz in 2016, Nurmagomedov in 2018, Poirier in 2021 and even boxing Floyd Mayweather in 2017, McGregor has all the time dealt with setbacks effectively. Normally inside hours of the defeat, he recognized causes for the loss and pursued rematches. As a result of the thought of somebody being higher than him by no means sat effectively.

Even with an MMA report of 1-2 up to now 3½ years, McGregor has continued to hold himself as the perfect fighter on the planet, and there have been causes — whether or not one subscribes to them or not — to present him the advantage of the doubt.

He took a yr away from the game to make 9 figures in a boxing match towards Mayweather, which anyone would have carried out. He took on the monumental process of combating Nurmagomedov in his very first struggle after that layoff, dropping by a fourth-round submission. And he needed to be energetic in 2020, however was unable to due to the journey restrictions attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic. After beating Cerrone in 40 seconds on Jan. 18, 2020, McGregor did not struggle once more till he misplaced by way of second-round KO to Poirier this previous Jan. 23, after which McGregor mentioned you’ll be able to’t compete as a “part-time fighter.”

These may sound like excuses for McGregor’s losses, however they’re official elements when you think about he is combating the perfect on the planet.

But when McGregor loses to Poirier for a second straight time on July 10, there can be no silver lining. Historical past will bear in mind Poirier was higher. Historical past will bear in mind McGregor asserted himself as the perfect featherweight on the planet in late 2015, however he did not also have a successful report within the 5 years that adopted.

He’ll have loads of cash, and he’ll be remembered as a famous person who modified the sport, albeit one who skilled some authorized points exterior of the cage. However he will not be remembered as one of many biggest fighters. And I nonetheless really imagine McGregor desires that for himself. So, from that sense, July 10 is for all of the marbles.

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