Conor McGregor will have a long road of recovery before he reenters the octagon, if that’s what he decides with his life after suffering a leg break in his trilogy bout with Dustin Poirier at UFC 264 on July 10.
UFC lightweight champion Charles Oliveira, who was sitting cageside that night in Las Vegas, is hoping the Irishman makes a full recovery and continues to do what he does best in MMA.
McGregor underwent a three-hour surgery days after the defeat to fix the injury in hopes to “build back” and resume his career. UFC President Dana White said he expects the lightweight superstar to “be back in a year,” and Oliveira thinks it would be good for the sport if that is the case.
“I hope he comes back 100 percent again and continues to put on a show and making things happen, because he sells a lot,” Oliveira told MMA Fighting. “He’s a guy that does a lot for the sport.”
That being said, Oliveira believes it’ll be a difficult mental hurdle for McGregor to overcome such an injury and still opt to compete inside an eight-sided cage.
Oliveira had to bounce back from a series of his own difficulties and losses during a long 10-year road before ever putting his hands on UFC gold, and says that kind of mindset would be necessary for McGregor in order to fight again.
“It’s a new Charles, a new story since my last loss. It’s a new mind, a new spirit, a new person today,” Oliveira said. “That’s up to you and how your mind operates, how much your spirit wants it, how much your heart desires it. When people say you can’t do something, if you tell yourself you can, then you can do it.
“It’s up to his head, how much he still wants this. Some people had serious injuries and bounced back. Let’s see how much Conor wants to return, how much Conor wants to fight again.”
One mystery surrounding the UFC 264 main event was the cause of the injury. McGregor said he had “stress fractures” going into the trilogy bout, and White said the former two-division champion requested permission to tape his ankles due to “chronic arthritis.” Poirier believes his rival “fractured [his leg] in one of the checks at the beginning of the fight.”
“It looked like a preexisting injury because it wasn’t like he threw a kick and got hurt,” Oliveira said, “but, if you look closely, he threw a lot of kicks at the beginning of the fight, so maybe he had a preexisting injury and it got worse during the fight. Anything can happen, we’re talking about MMA here and this sh*t is unpredictable. It’s sad. It’s complicated. Getting knocked out, getting submitted, f*ck, that’s cool, but [losing] that way, I don’t like it, man. It hurts.”
Oliveira doesn’t buy the theory that McGregor would’ve had no chance in the following rounds if he hadn’t suffered an unfortunate leg break in the final moments of the opening round, which was scored a 10-8 by two of the judges.
“We’re talking about MMA,” Oliveira said. “A lot of people were like, ‘Oh, he would be dead tired in the second round,’ but I’m talking as an athlete here. This is MMA and anything can happen. A hand can land, a knee, anything, and [McGregor] could win. It was a good fight up until that point.
“Dustin turned things around in the fight the moment he was able to take him down and work with his elbows on the ground and pound, but, unfortunately, Conor suffered an injury and that is sad for the sport. It happened. It’s so sad that it happened. I congratulate Dustin for his evolution, for the fight, for being smart, but [the injury] is sad. The way it happened was sad.”