Before I dive into the important question posed in the title, allow me to clarify a few things:
This is NOT a hate post.
I have nothing against Conor McGregor.
In fact, I absolutely LOVE Conor, and happen to agree with a few things he had to say (precision beats power etc.).
This post will aim to examine the UFC/Conor relationships as it appears to this MMA fan right here. It’s based on communications made public by Conor himself, the UFC and reports coming from well-respected MMA news outlets. Alright? Alright then.
Many people fell in love with the fighting Irish phenom during his rise to stardom, and make no mistake, he is the very definition of a star. Climbing the rungs of the featherweight division, finishing one after great one of his opponents until he destroyed the long reigning champ with a devastating knockout.
His ability to produce gems every time he opens his mouth, raising the stakes at a second’s notice and most importantly – his ability to back his talk up with in-cage action (at least so far), has made him not only the charismatic young man he is, but also undeniable. Fighters simply cannot find answers to his taunts and speeches.
Many of Conor’s fans would posit that he is indeed the UFC’s biggest star, especially following Ronda Rousey’s defeat, and thus – The UFC needs Conor more than he does them. This also seems to be Conor’s view of these relationships, judging by a few recent interactions in which his head seems to have expanded quite a bit…
I would argue the opposite. It all boils down to the fact that a King needs a kingdom to reign over.
So far, Conor appears to be calling all the shots. Who to fight, who not to fight (Frankie Edgar anyone?), When to fight, and at what price.
And I have to ask – why?
I don’t ask this in spite. I don’t ask this because I don’t think Conor is worthy of fighting for one title or another. I ask this because I think the UFC is making decisions based on misunderstanding the relationships.
Would I like to see Conor fight Aldo, followed by Dos Anjos, followed by Robbie Lawler in three consecutive events? Absolutely. Line them up! Would that be a smart move for the UFC? I think not.
Let’s say Conor fights Dos Anjos and wins. What’s next? How do you sell a fight with someone other than the reigning champ as an escalation after that? See, the build up to the Aldo fight was perfect exactly because Conor plowed through a weight class, making us fans salivate at the prospect of a title fight.
Would it not make perfect sense to have Conor fight a few contenders first? I’m talking only top 5 guys here folks. I don’t expect him to start from square one. Let’s say – Nate Diaz, Cowboy Cerrone, Eddie Alvarez and Anthony Pettis. You just sold out 4 venues. in fact, 5 because after that – assuming he wins them all – the title fight will be off the charts. Not to mention that, holding two titles may keep a whole weight class on hold until his business is done with the other one… And if he loses to RDA on the first shot, it may just be the last thing the UFC wants happening to the golden boy, so early in his career…
But it seems like the UFC doesn’t want to wait. They want to pound on the iron while it’s hot. Which is perfectly understandable. You may not want to run the risk of Conor being sidelined due to any of these prospective fights etc.
But that is exactly why I think the UFC misjudge that balance between – arguably – their biggest star and themselves.
Ronda Rousey is still around. There’s still a story to be told there. Jon Jones is coming back. There are a few stories to be told there. Lawler becomes a story in his own rights. Now, granted. They may not be as a big as Conor, in terms of popularity and interest, but they hold their own and provide the UFC the ability to play Conor’s story out in a way that would better benefit everyone.
It’s like this – If Conor decides to call it quits today, the UFC will continue moving forward with the smallest of dents on their potential cards. If the UFC cuts Conor (hopefully never), Conor may be the king of another promotion, but it will simply NOT be the same status he holds today.
For all of our sake, I hope both parties will continue to collaborate and be happy, but I hope that critical decisions will not be made, based on a whim. The ignoring of the Frankie Edgar no-brainer fight is not a good indication in my book.
I’m not about to boycott the RDA fight. I may have opinions, but I love MMA too much to be silly. Hell, I’ll watch Conor fight an Ox if they schedule this. I just want to see his story told a little differently is all I’m saying.
There. I said it, I meant it, I’m here to represent it.
As usual, feel free to comment, share and like.
Until next time,