While he was a heavy favorite going into the night, the former two-division UFC champion struggled to deal with Poirier’s brutal kicks to the legs, which then opened him up to a series of powerful punches that eventually ended the fight in the second round. Afterward, McGregor was upset with his performance as he fell by knockout for the first time in his mixed martial arts career.
According to UFC President Dana White, McGregor now has only two choices to make for his career after falling to Poirier in his first fight back after a year off.
“I think it will make him hungrier,” White said about McGregor at the UFC 257 post-fight press conference. “There’s two ways this goes — hungrier or I’m done. He’s got the money. I mean when you think about it, I’m a huge Rocky fan. This is like Rocky 3. When you get off of a 310-foot yacht, you know what I mean? You’re living that good of a life. It’s tough to be a savage when you’re living like he lives and has the money that he has.
“On his way up, he was a young hungry kid. He didn’t have any money and he wanted nice things. He wanted nice suits, nice cars, nice houses. He’s got everything he ever wanted. So I don’t know. It goes this way or that way.”
In Rocky 3, Sylvester Stallone’s trainer played by the late Burgess Meredith warns him ahead of a fight against a ferocious up-and-comer.
“Three years ago, you was supernatural,” said Meredith’s character “Mick.” “You was hard and you was nasty and you had this cast-iron jaw, but then the worst thing happened to you, that could happen to any fighter: You got civilized.”
Is it possible McGregor got civilized after living in the lap of luxury?
It’s tough to deny that McGregor’s life has changed dramatically in recent years after he became one of the highest paid athletes in all of sports. He took home a nine-figure payday for a boxing match against Floyd Mayweather in 2017 and since that time McGregor has gone just 1-2 in the UFC with one-sided losses to Poirier and reigning lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov.
White has questioned if McGregor would even want to fight again after earning so much money in his career. But the Irish superstar has rarely wavered in his desire to compete outside of struggles to reach a deal with the UFC on particular opponents.
The loss on Saturday night is definitely a setback, but it doesn’t mean that’s the end of the road for McGregor, especially with the potential for another fight against Poirier now that they’ve split a pair inside the octagon.
“We’ll see,” White said. “I’m sure in a few hours he’ll be blowing me up, telling me a million things he wants to do. We’ll see what he wants to do from here.
“There’s always a trilogy when you’ve got 1-1.”