McGregor is set to make his Octagon return later this year after recovering from a brutal leg break at UFC 264. Despite losing three of his last four fights in the UFC, he remains arguably the biggest box office star in combat sports.
But Hearn believes that McGregor’s rise to stardom hasn’t been completely positive for UFC President Dana White and the rest of the brass. During a recent interview on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani, Hearn explained why he thinks McGregor’s fame might’ve done the UFC more harm than good.
“For the UFC, where they’ve been very smart is by – it’s such an honor to get a UFC deal,” Hearn said. “You see these kids coming out of Bellator, or Cage Warriors, or wherever it is; but the thought of getting a UFC contract is everything. But I feel in the UFC, they don’t want you to get too big. And when you do – and I used to almost laugh at Conor because I could just imagine just the disruption that he was causing in that organization, because that’s not really the name of the game. We don’t want a star that is bigger than the UFC. Conor McGregor became bigger than the UFC. Really. And that’s a nightmare for those guys.” (h/t DAZN)
Things appeared to become tense between the UFC and McGregor at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. After previously promising an active year in 2020, he fought just once and allegedly became frustrated with the lack of movement in the lightweight title picture.
White recently stated that while McGregor is a handful to deal with, he’s one of the most loyal UFC fighters he’s ever come across. He put McGregor’s name in the conversation among the greats such as Ronda Rousey, Chuck Liddell, and Matt Hughes.
McGregor has become a global superstar for the UFC, but Hearn believes this may be more of a detriment for the company as a whole.
Do you agree with Eddie Hearn regarding Conor McGregor?