It Seems Like Conor McGregor No Longer Has “It”

ufc twitter screengrab

Conor McGregor used to be one of those guys who was an asshole, but he backed it up in the cage. The swagger was genuine and the confidence was sky-high. He said and did some outrageous things but the performances always ran congruent with the words coming out of his mouth.

But here we are in 2021, and Conor has a grand total of one MMA victory since Barack Obama was in office. He made a lot of money off the Floyd Mayweather boxing match, tapped to Khabib Nurmagomedov, and got knocked out by Dustin Poirier in a rematch of the 2014 fight that Conor won en route to the UFC Featherweight title. His lone win since 2016 was against a 36-year old Donald Cerrone, who went into the fight on a two-fight losing streak and is now winless in six.

This past January, we saw a different McGregor in Abu Dhabi, a respectful, veteran McGregor who had his family in tow. He was oddly effusive in his respect for Poirier, and people wondered at the time if this version of McGregor would be successful, since he’d built his entire career on scare tactics and intimidation. The answer was no, and sure enough, he reverted to that past version of McGregor at Thursday’s press conference ahead of the Poirier trilogy fight:

Poirier is basically laughing the entire thing off. He sees a guy he knocked out six months ago and thinks he can knock him out again. He’s been in the cage with Khabib, Justin Gaethje, Max Holloway, and Eddie Alvarez, so he’s certainly not scared of anybody, let alone a dude he already beat once.

The presser was a one-way street of McGregor talking shit and Poirier just sort of rolling with it. Stuff like this:

And this:

Maybe I’m wrong, and maybe I get the Freezing Cold Takes treatment after a McGregor win. Maybe we see the focused version of Conor that beat Nate Diaz in their rematch. It would set up an interesting title fight against Charles Oliveira.

But something just feels “off” about McGregor in 2021. This doesn’t seem like the same guy who confidently KO’d Jose Aldo, or Chad Mendes, or Eddie. It feels like the mystique is gone, maybe because the losses help dissipate an aura that once made McGregor seem invincible. That Alvarez fight was in 2016, which is a full five years ago. Conor is 32 years old and no longer in his prime. It feels like he no longer has “it,” if you know what I mean.

Dustin Poirier is the better mixed martial artist as of 7/9/21. He’s more well-rounded. He’s not going to be intimidated by a guy he knocked out once already this year. My money is on him getting it done again on Saturday night (not a lot of money though, only like 25 bucks).