There’s no doubt that Conor McGregor’s stock was a big hit at UFC 257 on Saturday night. The “notorious” Irish have become one of the biggest (if not the biggest) superstars in martial arts. And, in part, its marketability is built around an aura of strength.
It’s not that fans have never seen McGregor lose. They even saw him catch the wrong end of a pure stand-up battle with his lonely advance into boxing. However, despite those losses, the mystery, probably supported by inactivity, always remained.
In the heart of his corps of fans, no one-at least in MMA-could stand and trade with McGregor without serious injury. Even Nate Diaz busts up the first round with blood when he defeats McGregor. The former double champion wasn’t really unbeatable and even invincible, but the confidence he predicted made him look that way. And the fan base, which only appeared primarily to see his fight, tended to be easily shaken by spins.
It will now be a much more difficult sale. Dustin Poirier has put Conor McGregor’s show on the ice more than any other opponent to date, including Habib Nurmagomedov, with a performance that overwhelms SBG Ireland’s talent. The final image of McGregor, bloody and almost unconscious, lies on the mat as if he had awakened from a tragic nightmare and will have a lasting effect. Especially when he came to someone who handled it very easily many years ago.
And the immediate impact is already clear. McGregor suggests that his defeat was sacrificed in a boxing match against Manny Pacquiao, which was “as good as it was” before UFC 257. Dana White, who had been playing drums for years with Habib vs. McGregor 2, clearly wanted it. McGregor’s victory will make the battle a reality. Instead, it seems more likely that White will soon announce the official retirement of Habib.
If the history of boxing and mixed martial arts has taught us something, however, losing is rarely sentenced to death at that moment, even if it’s terrible. Even with damage, Conor McGregor could sell better than all other MMA fighters today (except now Nurmagomedov, who has retired). And assuming this doesn’t start a landslide as a result of a disastrous bad fight for Dublin natives, months and wins will probably correct the ship and bring him back to something closer to peak drawing power.
It’s not easy to find an example of this, but 40-year-old Manny Pacquiao remains the best boxing draw of 2019, with consecutive PPV records of 400,000 and 500,000 purchases. His record battle with Floyd Mayweather has been only three years (and only three) since he was coldly knocked out by Juan Manuel Marquez. Even Oscar De La Hoya’s late career boxing match against Ricardo Mayorga reportedly drew nearly a million purchases somewhere.
Immeasurable, Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr. combined their efforts to attract 1.6 million PPV purchases in 2020. And it’s a completely cleaned 50-year-old boxing match pre-sold as just a hard sparring session. For most athletes in fight games, getting a superstar position doesn’t really diminish your chances of getting the attention of your fans.
However, getting into mixed martial arts is a particularly difficult ticket. MMA tends to unleash its former great appeal from the public interest, as promotions set matchmaking and fighters are largely out of the driver’s seat as to who and when to fight.
Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz were once the names of marquees that could easily be deposited in a bank in a cage. In 2018, their long-awaited grudge match was brought somewhere near just 40,000 customers on PPV. By the end of Anderson Silva’s UFC career, he was working in the joint main event slot of Rose Namajunas and Jessica Andrade. They brought only 110,000 purchases due to their efforts. Fighting Israel Adesanya as the headliner for the UFC 234 didn’t break below 200k.
However, in the case of Silva, Ortiz, and Liddell, these numbers were the result of long and unmistakable slides and did not interfere with the determined course corrections. Loss in batch. They were badly beaten, not only on bad days in offices here and there, but for years when they weren’t just beaten. Ortiz may have turned his luck to Liddell’s match, but Bellator’s run hasn’t attracted fans as he and the Golden Boy Promotions wanted.
And after all, this is still very much like a world where Brock Lesnar can return to the Octagon and captivate fans wondering how he stacks with Stipe Miocic and Jon Jones. I feel it.
Given his financial stability, it looks like it’s mostly built from a booming liquor business, but McGregor is forced by the same matchmaking grinding machine that chewed other celebrities. It seems unlikely that it will happen. Four months, a year, or even three months from now, when he comes back, let him do either a big sale or win on the highlight reels. You may oppose your opponent.
Losing to Dustin Poirier will definitely hurt, but martial arts superstars who have short memories and know how to play hype and marketing games have plenty of choices. McGregor is always better than anyone else in MMA.
– MMA Sports
Conor McGregor remains MMA’s biggest star after the UFC 257 bombardment
https://www.bloodyelbow.com/2021/1/25/22248991/conor-mcgregor-editorial-opinion-combat-sports-superstar-dustin-poirier-ko-loss-mma Conor McGregor remains MMA’s biggest star after the UFC 257 bombardment