LAS VEGAS — The T-Mobile Arena record crowd of 20,062 at UFC 264 Saturday turned out largely to see Conor McGregor. The paid gate of $15.7 million was largely a result of McGregor’s magic promoting fights.
UFC president Dana White said there were 1.2 million pay-per-views sold in the U.S. by 8 p.m. and he expected the U.S. total to end between 1.7 million and 1.8 million. That, too, is because of the passion McGregor creates among the UFC’s fan base.
But where McGregor was once a clever, witty delight, he has turned into an overbearing boor who doesn’t know where to draw the line.
After threatening for weeks to send opponent Dustin Poirier out of the cage on a stretcher, it was McGregor who needed assistance to leave the cage Saturday and underwent surgery at a local hospital on his left leg.
Even beaten and the clear loser, 1-3 in his past four MMA fights and 1-4 in his past five fights overall, McGregor didn’t know when to shut up. After referee Herb Dean called off the bout at the end of the first round and awarded Poirier the TKO victory because McGregor couldn’t continue, the former dual champion again threatened to kill Poirier.
He shouted at Poirier as he sat on the canvas and made a gun signal to his head.
It was classless, boorish and, sadly, typical McGregor these days.
He needs to fix his fighting for sure, though he remains a remarkably talented fighter. But he needs to remember what it is to be a classy human being.
For that, he needs to take a look at Poirier, who vanquished him in two fights in 2021 after McGregor scored a first-round knockout in 2014 in the first bout of their rivalry.
Poirier the better man in and out of the cage
Poirier is teaming with ex-MMA fighter Justin Wren and boxer Manny Pacquiao to build homes for Pygmies in Uganda. Earlier, Wren and Poirier helped the Ugandan Pygmies get clean water.
A young man from Louisiana named Peyton Murphy sat cageside at the event with his mother and father. Murphy has cancer that has returned, and Poirier has donated money to the family to help pay Peyton’s medical bills, and provided moral support.
“He’s a real fighter,” Poirier said of Murphy. “Guys like that are who I want to lift up. It’s inspiring to me to see this guy going about his everyday life still loving life, living life and never giving up hope. That’s a real fighter.”
Speaking of Poirier, he’s the quintessential gentleman fighter. He’s 8-1 with a no-contest in his past nine, with the only loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov, arguably the greatest fighter in the sport’s history.
He has two wins over McGregor and victories over the likes of Justin Gaethje, Eddie Alvarez, Dan Hooker, Jim Miller, Max Holloway and Anthony Pettis.
He’s as great as he is classy, and he’s plenty of both. But he was bothered by McGregor’s classlessness and insistence on keeping the trash talk going long after its expiration date.
“Listen, Conor said some nasty stuff that didn’t make it on ‘Embedded,’” Poirier said. “When they show the behind the scenes from this fight, you’ll see him on the ground saying some real bad stuff. Even despite him saying all that stuff, I don’t wish that serious harm on nobody. The guy’s got kids. I want him to go home safe to his family.”
Trash talking is great, in its place. But in recent years, McGregor has routinely crossed the line. In the build-up to this fight, he brought Poirier’s wife, Jolie, into it.
The fighters’ families should never — ever — be made part of the trash talk. They didn’t sign up to fight. They haven’t done anything. McGregor lacks the self control and, these days, the class, to put a halt to it.
He let Poirier’s wife have it even as he sat a loser on the canvas after the fight.
“That’s not good,” White said.
Dana White hints at McGregor-Poirier 4
With former President Donald Trump among the star-studded crowd, Poirier put on a master class. McGregor came out storming, and, as usual, was firing punches. He still has world-class skills, though he doesn’t put them to the kind of use he once did.
He hit Poirier early with a left that Poirier clearly felt.
He was also kicking hard at Poirier, but that was his undoing. Poirier checked one of the kicks and said he knew McGregor’s bone fractured. With 10 seconds left in the round, McGregor went down and his ankle rolled beneath him.
A stretcher was brought in, but McGregor was carried out of the cage a beaten man even if the fight had come to a premature end.
Poirier coach Mike Brown said it only lessened the beating McGregor would have taken.
“There’s no way that was going the distance,” Brown said. “Conor usually comes out so fast and that was a tough round for him. If that had gone on … ”
Brown’s voice trailed off. It was obvious that Poirier was the better man on this night and he seemed on the way to victory without the injury.
Poirier won the trilogy 2-1, though they may see each other again, White said.
“We are going to fight again, whether it’s in the Octagon or on the sidewalk,” Poirier said. “You don’t say the stuff he said.”
McGregor has, unfortunately, said just about everything that’s come into his mind recently. And it would be better if it stopped.
He remains a supreme talent, but his act has worn very thin. He needs to take a very long look in the mirror and have some of the people around him speak truth to power.
He’s out of control and makes himself look bad every time he opens his mouth.
He need only look at Poirier for suggestions on how to comport himself.
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