Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
This weekend, the UFC returns to action for the first time in 2020, and it’s bringing with it a major fight. The biggest star in the sport, Conor McGregor, will make his return to the UFC on Saturday at when he takes on Donald Cerrone in the main event of UFC 246. Given McGregor’s history as a massive draw, the event figures to be one of the biggest of 2020 for the UFC.
But will it be?
McGregor has not competed in 15 months, instead spending 2019 staving off a number of legal issues as reported sexual assault allegations. His last outing was his disastrous bout with lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 229, where the former two-division champion was dominated and then submitted. Prior to that bout, McGregor had an unsuccessful venture into boxing when he fought Floyd Mayweather Jr. in “The Money Fight” in August of 2017, losing by 10th-round TKO. McGregor’s last win came all the way back at UFC 205 in 2016, his lightweight title victory over Eddie Alvarez. In short, it’s been a long time since McGregor was doing the kind of things that made fans fall in love with him and, heading into UFC 246, some pundits began asking the question “Is McGregor’s star power fading?”
UFC President Dana White certainly doesn’t think so.
Speaking recently with McGregor’s own media entity, The Mac Life, White said that at the moment UFC 246 is going to be as big of an event as you would expect from Conor McGregor.
“When you talk about people who say have ‘insight’ into the business and say these things, they’re all full of sh*t,” White said. “None of them know what they are talking about and literally none of them know anything about this business. None of them. Not one of them know anything about this business. We knew what the Conor fight would do and obviously we’re the ones that set the price for tickets and all the things that go along with the business. Conor’s coming in here and he’s pulling a $ 10.6 million gate. The fight’s off the charts. As far as ESPN, and what’s going on there with PPV and everything else, everything is as usual.”
Dana White is not the only one who believes McGregor is still big business for the UFC. Earlier this week, McGregor estimated that he would make roughly $ 80 million for his fight with Cerrone at UFC 246. It was a stunning revelation and one that vastly surpasses the estimates for what McGregor has been making. But if you listen to Dana, it might not be as outlandish as it seems. When asked about McGregor’s statement, White did not contradict McGregor.
“Listen, Conor is a massive superstar in this sport and he’s a phenomenon,” White said. “The kid has been making big money since the day he stepped in. From day one, when he fought he started to go like this [moves hand sharply up]. Nothing has changed.”
McGregor certainly does still appear to capture the public’s attention. Tickets for UFC 246 sold out within minutes of going on sale and traffic numbers for McGregor’s return across platforms have been high. But for McGregor and White the question may not be if McGregor is still a huge draw but rather, can he get back to being a record-breaking draw? McGregor’s fight with Khabib Nurmagomedov shattered the previous UFC PPV record (also held by McGregor) and Dana White has made it clear the UFC would like to book that rematch if McGregor wins on Saturday. But first he has to get through Cerrone.
“Obviously, he needs a win on Saturday,” White said. “It’s a big deal for him to get back here and win this fight. What he’s been obsessed with is the rematch with Khabib so Saturday is a big step in that direction.”
Goals. Conor McGregor interested in welterweight gold, but not Kamaru Usman’s ‘sniff-the-jockstrap’ style.
Possibilities. Conor McGregor: ‘Never say never’ on a potential return to featherweight, rematch with Jose Aldo.
Changes. ViacomCBS restructures, Bellator MMA now reports to Showtime Sports prez Stephen Espinoza.
Out. Robert Whittaker out of fight against Jared Cannonier at UFC 248.
Offer. Cris Cyborg offers to train Claressa Shields, cautions against immediate Amanda Nunes fight.
UFC 246 Presser.
Presser reaction video.
The A-Side Live Chat.
Anatomy of UFC 246.
MixedMollyWhoppery back with a breakdown of Colby and the ATT relationship.
Fights Gone By. Discussing ONE Championship and McGregor vs. Cerrone.
Heavy Hands. Discussing the big fights at UFC 246.
SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE
Out of curiosity what type of press conference do you prefer? #UFC246
— Coach Kavanagh (@John_Kavanagh) January 16, 2020
I’m seeing twitter spew disappointment with the respect shown between Cerrone & McGregor. Everyone expecting a shit show of amusement and getting let down.
It’s a nice fresh change from The Notorious one #UFC246
— Damien Brown ダミアン・ブラウン (@beatdown155) January 16, 2020
This fit tho is
Loving the Tombstone vibesss from #UFC246 #ImYourHuckleberry https://t.co/onLmDNG17R
— Megan Anderson (@MeganA_mma) January 16, 2020
Was that the lamest Conor press conference ever ?
— Ben Askren (@Benaskren) January 16, 2020
A message from Robert Whittaker.
A message from @RobWhittakerMMA pic.twitter.com/hppzNjNLh3
— UFC Aus/New Zealand (@UFC_AUSNZ) January 15, 2020
Ok guys, I’m ready to get to get back to business! @KelvinGastelum how is your schedule looking buddy? Let’s give the fans a fun one!
— jack hermansson (@jackthejokermma) January 15, 2020
@MoTownPhenom so much talking, but you choose easy way out https://t.co/Sa4x71d7vd
— Makhachev Islam (@MAKHACHEVMMA) January 14, 2020
Who is who?
Brothers reunited #UFC246 pic.twitter.com/GxFK45igDB
— UFC (@ufc) January 15, 2020
Mike Perry still picking a fight with an actor.
Let’s do an exhibition and we’ll give the proceeds to charity for Australia @MichaelJaiWhite
— Platinum Mike Perry (@PlatinumPerry) January 15, 2020
Arnold Allen (15-1) vs. Nik Lentz (30-10-2); UFC Raleigh, Jan. 25.
Matt Brown (22-16) vs. Miguel Baeza (8-0); UFC Columbus, March 28.
Is it just me or does Conor seem cowed? His presser was not nearly as thrilling as normal.
Thanks for reading and see y’all tomorrow.
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