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What is Conor McGregor’s legacy? UFC 264 fighters discuss his impact

“When you sign to fight me, it’s a celebration. You ring back home, you ring your wife. ‘Baby, we done it. We’re rich, baby, Conor McGregor made us rich. Break out the red panties!'”

Those had been the phrases of Conor McGregor in 2015 after he headlined his first pay-per-view towards Chad Mendes for the interim UFC featherweight title. What he said would show to be prophetic; the Irishman went on to smash box-office data as not solely the largest attraction within the UFC, but additionally the largest attract all of fight sports activities.  

And it isn’t even shut. 

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McGREGOR-POIRIER 3: Date, time, odds, PPV value, card & location for UFC 264

Six years after McGregor launched the world to “Red Panty Night,” he enters his rubber match with Dustin Poirier at a crossroads. He began his UFC profession at 145 kilos with a 7-0 file and 6 knockouts — together with a shocking 13-second knockout of then-champion Jose Aldo — however hasn’t been the identical power within the Octagon since then.

He bit off greater than he might chew when he moved as much as 170 kilos to face Nate Diaz, who submitted him within the second spherical. Of course, he did change into the primary fighter to carry world titles in two weight lessons when he defeated Eddie Alvarez for the light-weight championship in 2016. And he in some way managed to field Floyd Mayweather within the second-biggest pay-per-view of all time.

But he has solely gone 3-3 within the UFC over the previous 5 years and a litany of authorized points has practically overshadowed his skill. He stays a large draw, however there are many questions after his knockout loss to Poirier in January.

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And if he finds himself on the shedding finish of this trilogy struggle, one should query whether or not the McGregor period has reached its finale. 

But whatever the consequence in Las Vegas on Saturday, McGregor’s legacy has firmly been established. He is a game-changer and fighters admit that they’ve borrowed closely from his playbook. Whether it is the trash-talking or determining learn how to market themselves outdoors the UFC, each single blended martial artist needs what McGregor has. Even if they are not combating McGregor, being on the identical occasion because the Irishman ends in a residual impact that is not like something they’ve ever skilled. The vitality is incomparable and the publicity is unmatched.

“I said to myself that I have to get to this. Watching that fight was the pinnacle of my life,” mentioned middleweight Dricus Du Plessis, who went from attending McGregor’s struggle with Donald Cerrone final January as a fan to sharing a struggle card with “Mystic Mac.” “And now I’m fighting on the prelims.”

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If you will have by no means had the chance to attend a Conor McGregor struggle, it is not like something ever seen in blended martial arts. It’s not only a struggle; it is an occasion that holds individuals’s consideration hostage. A McGregor struggle finds media retailers that hardly ever, if ever, cowl the game asking for entry. You do not want a passing curiosity in MMA to understand {that a} Conor McGregor struggle is an enormous deal. And that is the explanation so many fighters both need to struggle him or be featured on an occasion he headlines. 

“I think the eyes that he brings is something different,” mentioned Gilbert Burns, who will face Stephen Thompson within the co-main occasion of UFC 264. “Me and most of the guys know Conor is a big star. We know there are going to be a lot of eyes on that card and I’m in the co-main event.”

Consider this: McGregor has been the principle occasion in seven of the ten best-selling UFC pay-per-views of all time. If you embody boxing, there are solely two names which might be constantly within the high 10 PPVs of all time: Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor. His worth to the corporate is simple, to the purpose that even potential rivals are hoping that McGregor emerges victorious towards Poirier. 

“I want him to win because whenever he wins it’s good for the sport,” mentioned Ilia Topuria, who will face Ryan Hall in the UFC 264 prelims. “It’s good for me and all of the competitors in the UFC. I hope he wins.” 

Topuria is not improper in his evaluation. As lengthy as McGregor continues to win, the UFC will stay within the highlight. Granted, the previous two-division world champion finally put the MMA promotion in his shadow and have become a enterprise himself. Some consider that his antics outdoors the Octagon have performed a big position in his current outings. But no one is keen to unhitch their wagon from McGregor’s prepare simply but. 

Like Mike Tyson earlier than him, the volatility is a part of the attract. When he isn’t tossing a dolly via a bus window or heading off accusations of sexual assault, he is engaged in a disagreement with his rival about donating to a charity or profiting closely off of his whiskey gross sales. 

He’s a strolling viral second that may spring into motion at any given time. These issues might finally catch as much as him and be his downfall, however till then, everybody is simply having fun with the experience. 

It is attainable the UFC is conscious that McGregor’s time could come to an finish and there might be a necessity for a brand new star who blends skill within the Octagon with persona outdoors it. Many have tried however few have the combination of talent, energy and present of gab. 

Fighters similar to 26-year-old Sean O’Malley have pulled pages out of McGregor’s playbook and seen their inventory rise. O’Malley is arguably the closest factor the UFC has to a crossover star. He’s younger, boisterous and eccentric, and each fighter needs a bit of “The Suga Show.”

MORE: Sign up to watch the UFC 264 PPV, exclusively on ESPN+

He’ll be in a major place to boost his inventory as he opens the UFC 264 PPV card towards Kris Moutinho. Although unranked, he has amassed greater than 1.5 million followers on Instagram with his viral knockouts, distinctive persona and simply sufficient volatility to captivate audiences, for higher or worse.

“I’ve watched every single interview [McGregor has] ever done and all of his fights multiple times,” O’Malley advised Sporting News. “A lot of people try to say I’m trying to be like Conor, but you can have two people with similar personalities. I definitely have taken bits and pieces to learn from, which is a smart thing to do. He’s inspired me a ton.”

Whether you consider that McGregor is on the brief listing of nice pound-for-pound fighters or suppose that he is the beneficiary of the celebs correctly aligning in his favor, the actual fact stays that he has left his mark on the game. Often imitated however by no means duplicated, Mystic Mac’s legacy is already set in stone. The solely query left is: Can he reclaim previous glory contained in the Octagon, or have we already seen the perfect of Conor McGregor?

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