Conor McGregor arrived on the W Resort in Abu Dhabi on Sunday by way of a yacht after which a Rolls Royce, opulent symbols of what makes the previous two-weight UFC champion completely different from all of his friends.
McGregor will headline UFC 257 on Saturday at Etihad Enviornment on Combat Island when he meets Dustin Poirier in a rematch of a 2014 bout in Las Vegas the Irishman won by first-round knockout.
At stake shall be a shot on the UFC light-weight title, both in opposition to champion Khabib Nurmagomedov or another person if Nurmagomedov stays retired.
Saturday’s struggle is sort of sure to eclipse a million in pay-per-view gross sales, a quantity that solely McGregor amongst UFC fighters is frequently in a position to obtain.
In his final three fights, in opposition to Donald Cerrone at UFC 246 on Jan. 18, 2020; in opposition to Nurmagomedov at UFC 229 on Oct. 6, 2018; and in a boxing match in opposition to Floyd Mayweather on Aug. 26, 2017, McGregor offered 1.1 million, 2.45 million and 4.Four million pay-per-views, respectively.
He’s the largest star — by far — the UFC has ever produced, and if he sticks to his plan to struggle a number of instances this 12 months, his notoriety will solely improve.
In each sport, there are stars, after which there are these uncommon few who shine above the others: Michael Jordan, LeBron James and the late Kobe Bryant within the NBA; Tom Brady within the NFL; Tiger Woods in golf.
As massive as McGregor is, although, he hasn’t hit the extent that these icons have for one easy motive: He hasn’t gained like they’ve.
That’s exceptional, as a result of McGregor is likely one of the most gifted fighters in UFC historical past. He was the primary fighter in UFC historical past to carry two weight-class championships concurrently, and he’s one of many uncommon fighters to have gained bouts in three completely different weight lessons.
However for all his success, McGregor’s file in UFC title fights is simply 3-1. He defeated Chad Mendes to win an interim featherweight title, then knocked out Jose Aldo in 13 seconds within the efficiency of his lifetime on Dec. 12, 2015, to change into the full-fledged featherweight champion.
He stopped Eddie Alvarez on Nov. 12, 2016, to change into the light-weight champion, after which misplaced a title bout to Nurmagomedov at UFC 229.
While you examine him to these different iconic figures, three championship wins is missing. Jordan gained six NBA titles, Bryant 5 and James 4. Brady gained six Tremendous Bowl championships. Woods is tied for first all-time on the PGA Tour with 82 victories and is second behind solely Jack Nicklaus with 15 main titles.
Successful within the largest conditions is what nudges a celebrity to that subsequent degree. Exercise, after all, is a matter for McGregor. Saturday’s bout in opposition to Poirier is simply his third MMA match within the final four-plus years. That’s not sufficient to maintain the curiosity of the non-MMA fan, notably since his fights are at all times on pay-per-view.
That makes it harder to achieve the plenty. Brady, for example, has performed in 9 Tremendous Bowls, every with a mean viewers within the U.S. of over 100 million viewers on community tv. On Sunday in a 30-20 NFC divisional round playoff victory over the New Orleans Saints on Fox, Brady was seen by greater than 29 million followers.
McGregor has by no means been on tv in entrance of that many individuals, and it hurts him when it comes to ascending to the ultimate, rarest degree in sports activities. It’s tougher for fighters to make it given how sometimes they compete, however Muhammad Ali did. Mike Tyson did. And yeah, Mayweather did.
Tyson is so iconic that his exhibition bout two days after Thanksgiving in opposition to Roy Jones Jr. offered greater than 1.9 million on pay-per-view.
McGregor is positioned effectively to make that final, hardest step as a result of there are a variety of doubtless intriguing bouts forward of him. Plus, with the UFC now partnered with ESPN, he’s going to be promoted like he has by no means been earlier than.
ESPN has a vested curiosity in his success and so he’ll be throughout your tv.
If he defeats Poirier on Saturday and UFC president Dana White is ready to persuade Nurmagomedov to return out of retirement to present McGregor a rematch, it’s going to present him a mega-platform. Undoubtedly, Nurmagomedov-McGregor II could be the best-selling struggle in UFC historical past and top-of-the-line sellers of any fight sport, interval.
It could virtually definitely surpass three million gross sales and White believes it may sail previous 4. Solely two fights have ever accomplished greater than 2.5 million in gross sales — Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao, which did 4.6 million in 2015; and Mayweather-McGregor, which did 4.Four million in 2017.
If McGregor defeats Nurmagomedov, there could be a rubber match that will set one other file.
The chance is there for McGregor to be even greater than he’s now and to command extra money than he ever has. He’s already earned practically 1 / 4 of a billion in his profession, and will double that earlier than he’s accomplished if issues break the proper method.
To do it, although, he’s bought to do what Jordan and James and Bryant and Brady and Woods had been ready to take action typically within the largest moments:
Extra from Yahoo Sports activities: