Conor McGregor is eager to fight again. But in a rare occurrence, he sounds unsure of exactly what’s next for him.
The lightweight main event of Saturday’s UFC 257 show in Abu Dhabi saw McGregor lose by knockout for the first time in his career, dropping to 1-1 in a series with Dustin Poirier that dates back to September 2014. It was a disappointing return for McGregor, who was fighting for the first time since a 40-second TKO victory against Donald Cerrone last January.
McGregor attended the evening’s post-fight presser and weighed in on how he sees his future unfolding.
“I’ll certainly regroup,” he said. “I’ll regroup and pick myself up. Get up off the floor and go again, and that’s it. Styles make fights, there’s many great stylistic matchups out there. Myself and Dustin are 1-1, myself and Nate [Diaz] are 1-1. There’s many good matchups for me and I’ll adopt a different approach for the trilogy I feel with Dustin because those leg kicks are not to be messed with. That calf kick, the low calf kick, I’ve never experienced that and it was a good one.
“It’s not that I haven’t got the style in me to switch it up and keep that at bay. I have a lot more weapons I didn’t get to show. It wasn’t my night, it wasn’t a great night. But again, no excuses, hats off, and regroup and pick yourself up. I look forward to going back now, seeing the kids, and just taking the licks, man. It’s a bastard of a game.”
McGregor repeatedly mentioned that he still feels happy being able to compete again after the COVID-19 pandemic prevented a number of fighters from booking matches after the outbreak of the virus in March. He was also fortunate enough to have his kids with him in Abu Dhabi, and he’s expecting a third child in the summer.
Even with his second loss in three fights, McGregor still sees himself as having options. Three years ago he negotiated a blockbuster matchup with boxing legend Floyd Mayweather Jr. and there were talks recently of McGregor facing another boxing superstar, Manny Pacquiao. Another crossover bout would save McGregor’s legs from being abused like they were in the Poirier fight.
“There’s none of them leg kicks in boxing,” McGregor said. “No, look, I always did want to focus on the MMA career. But I’m also open. I just see what happens, I don’t know what will happen. That Manny fight was happening, it was as good as done, so I don’t know. I just want to get in and just get back into a bounce, especially against that style of fighter, and not take those kicks. Don’t play with those kicks.”
McGregor said he’s not feeling any ill effects from Saturday’s fight, despite a few bruises on his face at the post-fight press conference and visible swelling around his right calf during the fight. He gave no indication of when he might fight again, but welcomed third fights with Poirier and Diaz if an offer eventually comes his way.
“I think they’re both pretty big,” McGregor said of which trilogy bout is more interesting to him. “Two southpaws as well, which is interesting. They’re both there, so we’ll see what happens.”
Having just lost to Poirier, McGregor admitted he’s leaning toward running that one because it’s so “fresh.” Based on the rankings, winning his series with Poirier would theoretically get him closer to another shot at a UFC title. After all, since he last wore a UFC championship, the belt has been redesigned, and it’s a prize he would love to have in his trophy room.
“I would like to get in and get back on the horse and secure the new belt with the Irish flag on it for sure,” McGregor said. “Anything can happen in this business as long as you stay active, as long as you compete. Things shape around you, you know what I mean? You show up, you reap the rewards, and that’s it. That’s what happened for Dustin tonight and it’s what’s happened again to me tonight, so I’ll keep my eye on the prize for sure.”