This weekend, “The Notorious” Conor McGregor returns after an almost two year hiatus from the sport of mixed martial arts.
In that time span, McGregor has caught more cases around the world including one involving a fan’s cell phone in Miami, and a drunken sucker punch of an old man in an Irish bar; not to mention his sexual assault and paternity case (which was dismissed after a DNA test proved he was not the father).
However, since his epic loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov, fans speculated if the Irishman would even return to the sport that made him a star. Sales from his whiskey brand, Proper No. 12 are soaring and his historic bout against Floyd Mayweather made him a wealthy man.
Still, the fire burns deep for fighting inside McGregor and he takes on tough-as-nails veteran, Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone at UFC 246 this weekend at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The tickets sold out in minutes from the faithful UFC and McGregor diehards. However, devoid of an opponent that many fans of color know and sans the bitter beef he had with Nurmagomedov, is McGregor still interesting?
For many combat sports fans of color, McGregor came into their consciousness in his crossover bout against Floyd Mayweather and his subsequent messiness.
We love drama and in the words of Gennady “GGG” Golovkin, McGregor is the ‘big drama show’. In his absence from competition, many mixed martial artists of color have emerged to become headliners in the space.
Two Nigerians became champions and stars in Israel “The Last Stylebender” Adesanya and Kamaru “The Nigerian Nightmare” Usman. In addition, Derrick “The Beast” Lewis became a viral social media star and Francis Ngannou a formidable fan favorite heavyweight.
Prior to that two-weight division champion Daniel “DC” Cormier and Jon Jones carried the UFC after the departure of McGregor, Ronda Rousey, and Georges St. Pierre from the competition. Now the climate is vast and more diverse than ever. Still, McGregor’s star power is undeniable and a testament to that is the fact this is a one fight deal with the UFC.
He famously fought under the McGregor Sports & Entertainment banner for this Mayweather bout and has floated the idea of rematching “Money” or even fighting Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao in a boxing match.
McGregor built his business of being the loudest mouth in the room and the savviest businessman-athlete in MMA. The question remains for fans of color: was his hiatus too long and can he be redeemed for his culturally irresponsibilities throughout his promotional career?
He called Nurmagomedov’s wife a “towel” for wearing a traditional burka. Nurmagomedov is a Russian adherent to Islam. He disrespected black women during the mega press conference at the Barclays Center in his World Press Tour against Mayweather. McGregor has limitless negativity which normally gives him the same hate it or love it effect that Mayweather perfected.
But has McGregor and the UFC done enough to make MMA fans of color watch with their double standard of UFC Code of Conduct ethics enforcement when it comes to McGregor? This weekend will be a testament to true drawing the power of McGregor.