How Will Conor McGregor Be Remembered?

The Biggest Superstar In MMA History Is Hanging Up His Gloves

One of the most popular fighters in the history of combat sports appears to be done fighting.

The Notorious Conor McGregor announcing early Tuesday morning that he is retiring from mixed martial arts on his social media.

But is McGregor really done? McGregor has announced on his social media that he was done with fighting before, only to step into the octagon again four months later.

There was a lot going on with McGregor nearly three years ago when he made that tweet. He was having a hard time with negotiations with the UFC on a rematch with Nate Diaz. So he said he was stepping away from the sport to strongarm the UFC. McGregor was also ringside at an MMA event where a fighter was beaten so badly, he later died from his injuries just a couple weeks before the tweet. That could’ve been part of the reason he contemplated walking away from the sport then as well.

So let’s say that we have seen the last of McGregor and we will never again hear the beginning of Sinead O’Connor and The Chieftains sing “The Foggy Dew” before the hip-hop beats of “Hypnotize” by the Notorious B.I.G. blast the speakers of the arena that night bringing sold-out crowds to their feet. How will McGregor be remembered?

Photo: AP

It all depends on who you ask. If you walked down the street and asked random people to describe Conor McGregor in one word, you may get a different answer every time.

Polarizing. Controversial. Punk. GOAT. Businessman. Cocky. Visionary. Troublemaker.

All of these have been used to describe McGregor and they may all be true. But no matter if you bought the pay-per-views to watch him win or lose, you had an opinion about him. You were talking about him whether he had a fight coming up or not. And that’s what sets him apart from not just other fighters, but other athletes in other sports.

There were those that loved his smack talking, others found it arrogant. But there was no doubt that when he got in the cage, he was there to fight. He wasn’t a boring fighter. He stepped into the cage with every intention of knocking his opponent unconscious. He used flashy kicks and footwork to set up his left hand to knock his opponents out.

McGregor had issues outside the octagon and let his emotions get the best of him. From throwing a dolly at a bus window to getting into a fight with members of Khabib Nurmagomedov’s team after their fight at UFC 229, the UFC superstar was finding his way on major news networks to discuss his behaviour. But again, bad press is better than no press, right?

Photo: John Locher/AP

But there was also a lot of positive McGregor brought to the sport and MMA organization.

He is a big reason why the former owners of the UFC, the Fertitta brothers, were able to sell the UFC for $4 billion 2017 after they bought the UFC in 2001 for $2 million. McGregor went from cashing welfare checks in 2012 to fighting one of the best boxers of all time, Floyd Mayweather, and making a reported nine figures to do so. He made $100 million dollars to compete in a sport you have no professional experience in doing and he didn’t even win. Not bad.

Photo: AP Photo/Isaac Brekken

McGregor also has ways to make money outside of fighting. His Proper 12 whiskey has been advertising all over the world and according to McGregor, sales have been good. It was even a sponsor in the octagon at UFC 229 in what looks to be his last fight for the promotion.

Just hours after announcing his retirement from the sport, the New York Times reported McGregor is under investigation in Ireland over sexual assault accusations. McGregor has yet to comment on the allegations.

Is it a coincidence that McGregor announced his retirement the same day this story broke? Time will tell as the investigation unwinds.

In the meantime, we need to accept that McGregor was something MMA fans had never seen. He was so much more than a fighter. Fans got excited the moment his fight got announced because of the amount of media he would do, the smack talk, the one-liners, the banter he would trick his opponent into, the weigh-ins, the press conferences, his iconic walkout was all buildup to what he was meant to do: fight.

 

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Greg LaFountain is from a small town in upstate New York called Peru. After graduating high school, Greg enlisted in the United States Marine Corps, serving his country for four years. After the Marines, Greg went to Pensacola State College where he got his Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice. He then moved to Tampa and enrolled at the University of South Florida where he earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Mass Communications. Since graduating from USF, Greg interned with Bucs Blitz, covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Greg joined Genesis in the fall of 2016, covering Florida State Football, the NFL and the UFC.