Three of the top ten draftees in the 2021 NBA draft were from teams not in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) program.
At UFC 264, Dustin Poirier defeated Conor McGregor via doctor’s stoppage, McGregor’s leg being broken after Poirier checked a wayward leg kick thrown by the former lightweight champ.
As a Conor fanboy, I have needed a couple of weeks to write this article as I was just so heartbroken for the bloke who opened my eyes to combat sports.
There have been calls for McGregor to retire from fighting because he’s ‘past it’ and has millions of dollars in the bank – why would you want to fight?
However, there are a few good options that will still draw him a huge number of pay-per-view buys.
In the UFC, there are two routes McGregor can go: UFC gold or money.
If he takes the former, there are numerous fights in the lightweight division that favour his fighting style, while also generating enough hype.
The issue is that he must swallow his pride and fight a lower-ranked opponent to find his feet again. The two who come to mind are Kevin Lee (11) and Dan Hooker (8).
Lee is well known among the fanbase and has fought former lightweight interim champion Tony Ferguson, former lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos, and current lightweight champion Charles Oliveira.
Although Lee lost all those bouts, McGregor would find him hard to turn down due to his resume. This could be a perfect fight to come back to after injury.
Hooker, on the other hand, is hungrier than Lee and is not afraid of a war. Hooker had a bloody battle against Poirier back in 2020, where he lost via decision. He then fought former Bellator champion Michael Chandler, losing after a devastating KO.
The issue with these matchups is that if McGregor does lose, his career is simply finished.
Other UFC routes McGregor could take that are a touch safer and could earn him the biggest pay checks of his career are Nate Diaz or Jorge Masvidal.
Both are fighting in the welterweight division and McGregor has fought three times in this weight class – twice against Diaz and once against Donald Cerrone.
The Diaz fight is a no brainer. It would be their third fight, currently tied at one apiece. McGregor has also made it well known that the Diaz fight would happen or, in his words, must happen.
McGregor and Diaz both fought at UFC 196 and UFC 202, and they are two of the biggest UFC PPVs of all time. It’s not surprise that McGregor, Diaz and the UFC are trying to make a third fight happen.
This fight will happen at some point. The money is there to be made by both fighters and it will be one of the biggest UFC fights of all time, no matter how many times they both lose before fighting again.
The other fight McGregor could take is for the BMF belt, famously won by Masvidal against (no surprise) Diaz.
McGregor has also made it well known that he believes he is the BMF and wants the belt (yes, the one made up by the UFC and presented by Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson).
This fight could challenge McGregor v Diaz III, in that Masvidal is currently one of the biggest stars of the UFC and is a known hard hitter, which falls in the favour of McGregor.
If all these options fall through, McGregor could go down the boxing route. There were contracts in place for a Manny Pacquiao fight, which supposedly fell through at the last minute. I still think this fight takes place due to both Pacquiao and McGregor being signed to the same sports management company.
However, Pacquiao isn’t getting any younger and with McGregor sidelined for at least a year, this fight may never come to fruition.
Another fight McGregor could take is against, dare I say it, Jake Paul. Paul has recently signed a contract with Showtime Sports for his upcoming fight with former UFC welterweight champion Tyrone Woodley and is one of the biggest names in boxing right now due to his ridiculous antics and highlight knockouts.
A fight between McGregor and Paul would have every casual fan signing up. The trash talk between them would be incredible, and the respective fan boys would have a hell of a time on the internet.
Does the fight happen? Probably not. Paul is a good fighter, there’s no denying that, but Tyron Woodley will beat him on August 30 and the hype train will be dismantled – including the fight with McGregor.
Finally, McGregor could retire and sail off into the sunset as a kid from Ireland who became the UFC featherweight and lightweight champion, fought Floyd Mayweather in one of the biggest PPVs of all time, and set his entire family up for life.
There would be no shame in that.