Is ‘The Notorious’ Actually Coming Back to the UFC?

He’s lean, mean and calls himself ‘The Notorious’. Conor McGregor has polarised fight fans’ opinions around the world and been the centre of attention for both the right reasons and the wrong ones. Moments of standout brilliance include his two all-out wars with tough US fighter Nate Diaz, which resulted in a victory apiece and left UFC fans clamouring for a decider. Moments of shame include capturing the headlines for hurling a dolly throw a bus window in Brooklyn, New York, and getting caught up in a post-fight brawl following his grudge match loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 229.

Now one of the country’s most famous Dubliners has hit the headlines yet again. The hot-headed fighter shocked MMA fans by announcing his retirement from the sport, recently. Then, merely 10 days later, he let the world know he was coming back out of retirement. His fans — and maybe even the impartial observer will welcome his return, but does he really mean it?

There was that time in 2016

It’s not the first time McGregor has decided to call it a day on the sport. Back in 2016, a little over a month following his loss to Nate Diaz, the fighter announced on social media he had ‘decided to retire young’. He’d barely given himself time to age, however, before coming back out of retirement just a couple of days later. The fight set up for his return was none other than a rematch with Diaz, but was moved from UFC 200 to 202, following a disagreement with the organisation’s president, Dana White, over promotional events.

What’s changed? Well, back then, maybe McGregor was being a little hasty. It was his first defeat inside the Octagon. That was always going to be a difficult pill to swallow. There were also the disagreements with his employer, but something inside him snapped and he stated on Facebook there was a time ‘when you need to stop handing out flyers and get back to the damn shop.’

This time the circumstances are different. The hostility between himself and his bitter arch rival Nurmagomedov may have fuelled his decision. Despite settling the matter in the cage, the animosity — which erupted in the shocking brawl outside of the cage at the event — rages on and the two have exchanged a series of nasty tweets. The president has referred to them as ‘unacceptable’. McGregor has not exactly been quiet about his wish for a rematch either. Even now, he’s still licking his wounds. The thought that Nurmagomedov will have got one over on him for the rest of his days could have just been too much to bear.

Who would he fight?

If McGregor was to step back into that cage, who would he fight? No doubt there would be several fighters who would be happy to go head to head with him. There’s nothing a UFC fighter — or any sportsperson, for that matter — likes more than to claim a scalp. It’s an issue to get yourself onto a few betting sites and investigate further if you like a flutter.

At the time of the announcement, McGregor was believed to be in talks for a fight in July. During his suspension following the post-match punch-up at UFC 229, there has been considerable talk of Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone as the man for the job. Both men have called each other out and Dana White has revealed he’d be up for getting things on between them. The fight would be a mouth-watering prospect for fans, but no one has confirmed officially that the fight is going ahead.

Some had been saying the next opponent might be Tony ‘El Cucuy’ Ferguson, who has been chasing Nurmagomedov. Legal difficulties relating to the fighter’s personal life, however, may rule out a clash between the two. One person who is 100% certain he wants to fight McGregor is Justin Gaethje. This is the young fighter’s dream. He’s also called out the Irishman and even wants to fight him in his own backyard of Ireland.

To be or not to be?

That is the question right now. It’s got to be said there is much speculation and scepticism around retirement and return-from-retirement announcements from Conor McGregor, given his track record. That’s not the only reason to take his words with a pinch of salt.

Recently, the Irishman hinted at a possible move to professional wresting company World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. After congratulating fellow Irelander Becky Lynch, who had beaten Charlotte Flair and ex-UFC fighter Ronda Rousey to win the women’s Raw and Smackdown championships at Wrestlemania 35, McGregor commented he couldn’t do what she did, but then backpedalled and asked if he might be able to.

Maybe the prospect of revenge on Nurmagomedov in the cage is too good to keep him in retirement. Perhaps he’s feeling a little restless and a tear-up with ‘Cowboy’ is on the cards. Or is the lure of the WWE enough to draw away from the UFC and free him of Nurmagomedov and Dana White? Right now, the future is uncertain, the one thing the world can be sure of is that the controversial star will make his mark wherever he goes. You don’t become ‘The Notorious’ for nothing.

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