What’s Next for Conor McGregor?

Conor Mcgregor And Dustin Poirier Fight

So, who saw that coming?

Just off the top of your head, what do you think the betting odds were for Dustin Poirier to score a knockout or a TKO against Conor McGregor in the main event of UFC 257?

If you said (+705) then you would be correct. I know hindsight is 20/20 but man, looking at that number, wow. 7 to 1 odds?! No, we have not seen Conor McGregor knocked out and starched before but Nate Diaz could have tko’d him in their first fight. However, he chose to have mercy and finish with the rear naked choke instead.

Nate Diaz Choking McGregor RNC

There was definitely a path to a TKO victory for Dustin Poirier.  I just thought it would be a little bit later in the fight but he didn’t even have to get Conor McGregor tired. He just put his shin onto the calf and muscles of the front of the lower leg on the former champion, and it changed the fight completely.

I guess we can talk about how and why this happened to Conor McGregor another day. The magnificent game plan that was put together by head coach Mike Brown and the rest of the great minds at American Top Team was pure simplistic genius; the best kind IMO.

Today, I want to try to answer the questions that are on everyone’s mind in the MMA world and the biggest one of those is.

What is next for Conor McGregor?

I watched his post-fight interview and the man was all class discussing his defeat and whether you like the Irishman or you hate him, I always feel like I’m getting complete honesty from him. That kind of reminds me of this orange tinted fellow who used to be President of the United States but his name just isn’t coming to mind right now.

Conor could fight Manny Pacquiao. Heck, he could even fight Khabib. That was the fight that Dana White and the UFC wanted. I don’t think it’s the fight that all the fans were in agreement with considering how the first matchup went but that is obviously the fight that makes the most sense monetarily.

I’m not hearing a lot of people talk about it but a rematch with Dustin Poirier sounds pretty freaking good to me right now. Dustin acknowledged that Conor hurt him pretty badly and if the Irishman would have followed up and caught him on the button once more, the fight likely would have been over.

I think what happened here was Conor definitely being wary of the takedown. The element of surprise is great and all but it doesn’t give your opponent any pause and since Dustin had already scored one takedown in the first round, it gave McGregor pause and when Conor had the opportunity to finish the fight, he hesitated just enough to allow his opponent to recover from what Dustin Poirier called a flash.

I realize that there is just so much talent and the top five of the UFC’s Lightweight division but a rematch between these two seems like the best fight to make. Let’s go over a few other scenarios for the notorious Conor McGregor’s next fight and also handicap these matchups the best we can.

Conor vs Manny Pacquiao?

Listening to Conor McGregor talk to the media after his loss to Dustin Poirier at UFC 257,  you don’t have to be a clinical psychologist to see that the man doesn’t exactly know what he wants. On one hand, you can hear the excitement in his voice as a martial artist and a competitor when he talks about improving his overall mixed martial arts game particularly adapting to these absolutely devastating lower leg calf kicks.

It sounds like Conor is back committed to the UFC and winning another Lightweight World title and then a reporter asks him about fighting Manny Pacquiao and a pro boxing match and, of course, the businessman in him comes out and says hey, it’s definitely still a possibility.

Even though I picked Conor McGregor to win the fight and I’m also a fan, I’m almost glad that he lost because if he would have won, we would be waiting several months maybe even six months for Khabib Nurmagomedov to come back and defend his lightweight title against Conor.

I don’t think that many MMA fans want to see this fight.

If McGregor had to come back and looked incredible against Dustin Poirier, then they would have made this fight, and sure, some people would be very excited. I’m just not one of those folks.

The Lightweight Division is the most popular division and the UFC. It is the most talent-rich division in the UFC, and now, it may be the most wide open race for a new champion, that is if Khabib Nurmagomedov remains retired.

I did like how Conor said hey, Manny Pacquiao is a pretty skilled boxer but at least I know I won’t have to worry about any calf kicks against him. McGregor said this is the first time in his career that he was forced to deal with the debilitating nature of the calf kick.

Manny Pacquiao Conor McGregor Boxing

He would make the most money fighting Manny Pacquiao and he wouldn’t have to worry about the calf kick but for me, I don’t want to see Connor go back to the boxing ring. That, in part, is why the calf kick worked so well against him.

If you remember when Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier first fight, McGregor came out in a Karate stance and was moving quite a bit. There is no way Dustin Poirier could have landed those calf kicks if Conor would have been in his karate stance and also been proactively landing kicks of his own much like he did in their first meeting.

Please Note:
There is nothing wrong with McGregor’s boxing. It’s incredible but he fell in love with it and that is Dustin Poirier’s strength. Why attack a man at his strength when you don’t have to? The first time around, McGregor beat Poirier with his kicks long before he landed that left hand shot.

I don’t think he fights Manny Pacquiao next. The Filipino living legend has more exciting matchups in the boxing world to look forward to besides another visit by the MMA guy, McGregor.

Conor vs Someone Down the Rankings Outside of the Top 10

This obviously wouldn’t be the most glamorous matchup but a Conor McGregor fight sells better than anyone else no matter who he is fighting.

McGregor stated inside the Octagon after his TKO loss that he needed more time in there to be a better fighter and boy he couldn’t be more correct.

That is one of the biggest hindrances to the development of Conor’s overall MMA game. Well, I should say it hindered his effectiveness. Conor has a pretty awesome set of skills when you add it all up.

There is only one other man who is a nightmare matchup for him and also happens to be the most dominant fighter in the history of the UFC, Khabib Nurmagomedov.

Khabib Nurmagomedov Vs McGregor

Applying those skills is another story, though.

Let’s just compare him and his opponent from this past Saturday night at UFC 257, Dustin Poirier.

These two men last fought in September of 2014.

Since then, Conor has only fought in 9 mixed martial arts contests, albeit at 3 different weight classes. Over those fights, he has put in about 50 minutes of fighting but only 27 of those have been at Lightweight.

Dustin Poirier, conversely, has 150+ minutes of fight time since then and they have all been in fights inside the UFC’s Lightweight Division. There really is no comparison. Dustin got to cut his teeth with fighters like Bobby Green, Yancy Madeiros, and Jim Miller.

These are all solid guys but Conor hasn’t had any tune up fights at 155 unless you count the Cowboy Cerrone fight as a tune up but I wouldn’t be mad at you if you did.

We could give McGregor somebody like Paul Felder or Rafael dos Anjos. He possesses such a speed advantage over each guy and neither are known for their tremendous ability to get the fight to the mat so I would favor the Irishman.

Sometimes, you need to take a step or two back in order to take several forward and I think that is exactly what Conor McGregor needs to do here.

He will never be able to blend into the crowd and keep the reporters at bay for a year while he racks up time inside the Octagon and gets some wins against lesser competition.

It doesn’t seem like the UFC is concerned with making any small fights with their biggest money draw and we all understand that there are levels when you’re talking about a Conor McGregor fight as opposed to any other fighter on the UFC roster. These levels are in the form of 0’s.

I would love to see Conor take a couple of fights where he can amass some time inside of the Octagon but that’s just not who he is or how he fights. I think the company will be looking to book a rematch with Dustin Poirier or give McGregor one more fight and if he looks anywhere close to good, he will get the first shot at the new world champion, whoever that may be.

Rematch!

Do the rematch! I think Conor McGregor can certainly avoid the calf kicks should these two men fight again. He has the skill set. It’s just his game plan against Dustin wasn’t a very good one.

Conor believes he is the best boxer in the UFC and let’s just say he is. I think he has better hands than Dustin but that doesn’t matter.

Why attack Dustin where he is the strongest?

I would love to see Conor fight Dustin Poirier again but take the approach he did the first time these two gentlemen met at Featherweight in 2014. Light on the lead leg, bouncing in and out…using many many kicks to keep Poirier off rhythm.

I couldn’t help but look at bestfightodds.com to see if there were any betting odds out on the rematch and I found them!

Conor opened up as the betting favorite at (-140) and Dustin as the slight underdog sitting at (+120). That isn’t quite the (+240) some people got on The Diamond to get the win at UFC 257 so the value here is probably with Conor McGregor.

Remember, we are just one punch away from having a completely different discussion today. Dustin admitted that he was hurt bad enough that one more shot would have put him away. I realize how heavily I favored Conor at UFC 257 and some of you got burned because of it but (-140) for McGregor to make the proper adjustments and not fight Dustin where he is at his best, is a great price.

I will take that one right now because you know the betting public Conor backers are going to stick with their man and Mac would probably climb to (-200) should these two fight once more.

In Conclusion

There are several different directions Conor McGregor could go in after his disappointing loss to Dustin Poirier in their rematch at UFC 257.

Maybe he “retires”, builds up some more ring rust, and comes back next January to fight Nate Diaz who has also been sitting for a year or more. I hope not.

We don’t need to see Conor and Nate fight anymore, at least I don’t.

I think Diaz took a lot of damage, particularly in their second fight, and is being dropped easier and easier now. Jorge Masvidal had his way with him in their BMF “World Title” fight back in 2019 at MSG.

Conor could fight someone down the Lightweight ladder but I don’t think that’s what the brass want out of him so it is likely going to be only big fights from here on out for Mystic Mac.

The fight to make is the rematch!

Do it, Dana! You can still save the stock of your #1 producer. If you give him a “weaker” opponent and Conor finds a way to lose again, then what?

McGregor vs Poirier III is the play for the promotion, in my opinion, but we may have to see each man fight again at least once. Hopefully, they give McGregor someone he will defeat because seeing these two men in a rubber match fighting for the third time would be the biggest treat for me.

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Mike Pruitt / Author

Mike has been covering sports professionally since 2017 but on the amateur scene for 25 years since when he was 12. Before the internet changed the world, he would keep detailed statistical box scores of NFL and NBA contests, write recaps, and voluntarily commentate games and fights alone in his room. Mike's military experience, Bachelors Degree, and employment thereafter were always rooted in engineering, science, and teaching. Now he enjoys being able to express himself through writing about football, golf, and car racing among other sports but most of all fighting as his life has been rooted in mixed martial arts including competing and teaching for the past 15 years.