(This story originally published over at usatoday.com.)
We know a lot about what Conor McGregor hasn’t been doing recently, and what he won’t be doing in the near future.
According to UFC President Dana White, McGregor (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC) won’t be boxing after his August defeat to Floyd Mayweather, not against Manny Pacquiao nor anyone else.
McGregor is not cheating on the mother of his young child with British pop star Rita Ora, who Tweeted about their “date night” last week, at least not according to several social media posts that saw him cozying up to fiancee Dee Devlin with a cart of luxury shopping bags in tow.
McGregor is not fighting on the end-of-year UFC 219 card in Las Vegas that he was originally slated for after discussions were halted due to McGregor’s aggressive conduct while watching a friend take part in a Bellator event in Ireland last month.
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And, given that the British and Irish tabloids are salivating as the 29-year-old seemingly bounces from one bout of partying to the next, he’s presumably not particularly close to being in fighting shape any time soon.
So where to next for McGregor?
Sitting with an estimated $100 million in the bank after the Mayweather money grab, there is no need for McGregor to rush back to the octagon to defend his UFC lightweight title, or even any requirement for him to ever fight again, at least for financial purposes.
White admitted as much last month.
“We’re still in that ‘Conor might never fight again’ (phase),” White told reporters. “Try to get up and get punched in the face for a living when you’ve got $100 million in the bank.”
Although Mayweather-McGregor did less pay-per-view sales than projected and failed to beat the 4.6 million buys record set by Mayweather-Pacquiao, the 4.3 million subscriptions still earned both fighters a fortune. With his fiscal future secure, McGregor has options aplenty, and most of them don’t involve a swift return to the octagon, where he last fought in a November 2016 victory over Eddie Alvarez at Madison Square Garden.
McGregor is in demand on the fashion scene and can generate cash by his presence alone, much like Mayweather, who reportedly made $2 million for taking an all-expenses paid vacation to China.
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On Friday, WWE commentator Jim Ross said he would be shocked if the sports entertainment company was not already in discussions with McGregor. There are intriguing possibilities for McGregor if and when he comes back to the UFC. But as things stand, it is leaning a bit more closely toward the “if” at the moment.
Tony Ferguson is the interim lightweight champion coming off a 10-fight winning run. Featherweight titleholder Max Holloway would surely move up in weight for a crack at a huge payday with McGregor. Khabib Nurmagomedov would be a blockbuster showdown if McGregor matched up with him for the UFC’s first foray into Russia.
Then there is the prospect of a Nate Diaz trilogy fight or, further down the road, a bout with Georges St Pierre, who returned from a long layoff in November but has since been diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, resulting in his vacating of the middleweight belt.
McGregor’s comeback will depend on his own appetite for staying relevant in the sport that made his name. Yet he will know as well as anyone that big reputations don’t take long to shatter.
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Just ask Ronda Rousey, who went from A-list to presumed retirement in just over a year thanks to a pair of brutal back-to-back knockouts.
Or Jose Aldo, against whom McGregor built his legend with a 13-second KO, and who followed a decade-long undefeated streak with three defeats in four fights and a swift downward spiral.
McGregor isn’t spiraling. He’s flushed with all that cash and in a position every other UFC fighter envies. Yet there is no doubt that the celebrity life is no longer a front for him. It is just how he does things.
Maybe blowing off some steam will renew his zeal and lead to him coming back stronger than ever. But in truth it seems like each party, private jet ride, shopping spree, and passing day takes him further away from the hungry fighter he was – and the UFC wishes he would be again.
For more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, visit the UFC Rumors section of the site.
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