Many fans and pundits believe McGregor’s latest setback signaled the end of his time competing at the highest level of MMA. Having suffered his first knockout loss earlier this year at the hands of Dustin Poirier, the Irishman entered the Octagon for the third time with “The Diamond” at UFC 264 last month.
In front of a sold-out crowd inside Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena, McGregor was dominated for most of the main event’s opening frame, before a horrific broken leg succumbed him to his second loss of 2021.
Despite having undergone a successful surgery, and stating his desire to return to action in 2022, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone predicting a return to championship glory for the former two-division UFC champion. And John McCarthy, who has been a prominent name in the sport since the 1990’s, is no exception.
“Conor is that guy. He was at the pinnacle. One of the best fights I ever saw, as far as the way that someone fought it, was Conor; when I did Conor and Eddie (Alvarez). He could not miss.” (h/t Sportskeeda)
“Big” John added that, largely because of his businesses and other interests, McGregor is no longer at the level of the likes of Poirier.
“He was at this level. He’s not at that level now because all the other things that are important, and all the business and everything, it starts to just bring you down; while they (McGregor’s opponents) are bringing it up. And that’s what Dustin has done. He’s kind of brought it up. Conor’s got to find that way to bring that thing back up.”
When asked if he believes the Irishman can return to action at the peak of his performance again, McCarthy wasn’t optimistic about McGregor’s level of focus on fighting.
“I don’t think so. I’m being honest. And I love, you know, I love when he was fighting and stuff. But he’s got so many other things to focus on, it’s tough just to focus on this one thing.”
Despite hinting at a full-time switch to boxing towards the end of his career, McGregor seemed adamant that he’ll return to the Octagon next year during a recent Twitter Q&A. The Irishman even suggested he could dethrone the welterweight king Kamaru Usman.
With the door seemingly open for a fourth fight with Poirier, and a potential trilogy clash with Nate Diaz remaining an intriguing prospect, it seems McGregor’s active career inside the Octagon is not over just yet.
Do you think Conor McGregor can return to his best? Or do you agree with John McCarthy?