As the Notorious takes a well-earned break from the fighting world, JJ Lee looks at what his next career move could be.
It’s fair to say Conor McGregor has reached levels of idolisation in this country only matched by Pope John Paul II and Elvis. The man from Crumlin is in the midst of a well-deserved sabbatical after completing an absolutely meteoric rise to the pinnacle of Mixed Martial Arts. But come next June, what will be McGregor’s next venture?
‘The Notorious’ has effectively done it all in his current stint with the UFC. The destruction of Jose Aldo at UFC 194 to claim the Featherweight crown and his two fights with Nate Diaz were record breaking in every sense of the word. At UFC 205, the Dubliner made history by becoming the first ever dual-weight UFC champion at the expense of Eddie Alvarez and realistically, there’s not a lot left for Conor to take on in the UFC. A trilogy fight with Diaz is a possibility, while there’s also rumblings of a potential move up to welterweight to take on Tyron Woodley. Both of these fights would draw huge numbers for the UFC purely because of McGregor. He is the money maker, he is the draw and he knows it. Bearing this in mind, it’s becoming more and more likely a shift away from MMA is the next logical step for the Irishman.
Whispers of a potential cross discipline mega-fight with Floyd Mayweather began to permeate through social media back in April and have persistently lingered on throughout the year. Speculation on a possible bout between the pair has only been exacerbated further by the news McGregor has been recently granted a boxing license in the state of California. From a financial standpoint, this is undoubtedly the most desirable option for ‘Mystic Mac’. A confrontation with Mayweather would smash every pay-per-view and gate revenue record there is, but does McGregor have the prowess to match arguably the greatest pound for pound boxer there ever was? Doubtful, but it doesn’t even matter. The profit pocketed by McGregor would be astronomical and would presumably signal the end of his days in active competition.
The other option is far more outlandish, yet it makes perfect sense. Conor McGregor is by far the most charismatic and captivating athlete in the world today, as people hang on every word that drops from the champion’s mouth. The Irishman has turned UFC press conferences into an event all of their own. So, this brand of freakish athleticism and swaggering smack talk McGregor has cultivated so well would be perfectly at home in the realm of professional wrestling, the WWE.
‘World Wrestling Entertainment’ is indeed staged, but they do not hide that fact and are one of the highest earning companies in the world. Their global appeal is unmatched and would provide McGregor with a hefty pay check, either for a run of appearances or a one off. ‘The Notorious’ has flirted with the idea earlier in the year engaging in a heated Twitter scuffle with various WWE superstars, perhaps in a bid to garner some publicity. McGregor’s signature strut that is performed when he enters the Octagon is directly sampled from WWE Chairman Vince McMahon and is clear that the Lightweight champion harbours a great deal of respect for the businessman, stating before UFC 202 – “Vinny Mac is a f**king legend”. The UFC and WWE have worked together in the past, mainly in relation to Brock Lesnar. The current WWE athlete and former UFC Heavyweight champion recently competed at UFC 200 whilst under contract to Vince McMahons travelling circus, perhaps signalling a similar deal could be on the table for McGregor.
Whilst the move may raise some eyebrows among many, I believe a WWE switch is probably the smartest move. As McGregor welcomes the birth of his child in early 2017 it is presumed that the risk that comes with MMA will appeal less to the global superstar. WWE would offer a far safer outlet to McGregor while at the same time earning him some serious coin.