Connor McGregor first met Dustin Pourier at the 2014 Ultimate Fighting Championship Octagon. Like so many other McGregor opponents, however, what was considered a better fighter was quickly fired, a left hook to the head and a series of punches on the ground prompted the referee to stop the fight. Less than two minutes.
They will meet again on Sunday at Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, UFC 257, with Poyier once again ahead in the official rankings, although a clear crevice between the odds. But while Poirier’s career has progressed slowly over the last six-plus years, McGregor is the owner of the game and its large audience. He achieved superstardom, won several UFC championships And fought Floyd Mayweather In one of the most engaging boxing matches ever.
But the past few years have been dominated by legal troubles in McGregor’s life, both in Europe and the United States. He pleaded guilty to assault Punching a man in a bar in ireland, Promoting their country, their new brand of whiskey. He was placed on probation in New York Hurting a dolly in a bus A boxer week, breaking a window and injuring a fighter. He was investigated by law enforcement on several other allegations of violent behavior.
A case, which did not result in charges after an investigation by police in Ireland for more than a year, would inevitably loom with McGregor, 32, and the UFC in Abu Dhabi, and elsewhere in the future.
In early January 2019, a woman in Dublin, Ireland, told police that she had been raped by McGregor a month earlier. A statement of claim In a lawsuit, the woman filed a lawsuit against McGregor this week The graphic described her approach to the encounter in detail. Soon after the statement, an investigation at a hospital said, there were bruises on his entire body.
UFC officials have declined to comment about the case. At a press conference on Thursday, McGregor called the lawsuit “Old news” filed on Monday.
“During two long years, it was intensively investigated and I was cleared of any wrongdoing,” McGregor said. “I have a lot of positivity in my life, a big challenge on Saturday night.”
Although prosecutors dismissed the criminal charges, they did not misrepresent him and the trial would go through a trial.
In a legal limbo with McGregor, the UFC will also be in a holding pattern – expected but unsure whether it can rely on regular performances from the biggest star in its history.
As the case was investigated by police in 2019 and 2020, McGregor largely disappeared from the public eye, at least by standards of how he already made headlines. He announced his retirement from the fight in March 2019, only to change his mind quickly and book the fight a year earlier against Donald Cerrone, named Cowboy.
McGregor first addressed the run-up to the bout, which police were still investigating.
When he was Asked about it in a pre-fight news conferenceThe presence of hundreds of fans rocked, and the UFC shut down its star. His opponent, Cerrone, interrupted saying only questions about the fight were allowed, and UFC President, Dana White said, McGregor had already answered the question in an interview with UFC’s corporate media partner ESPN Was.
McGregor defeated Cerrone decisively, then did not fight again in 2020, as the UFC’s lightweight division mostly ran without him. Power-punching Justin Gethje poses as a challenge, Only for the decisively losing champion, Khabib Narmmagomedov, Who retired immediately. Poore, who lost to Nurmagomedov in 2019, defeated Dan Hooker in June to outdo himself in the lightweight rankings. Charles Olivera pulled together a winning streak to become a contender.
The UFC suddenly lacked a clear hierarchy in the marquee weight class,
McGregor’s 2018 fight against Nurmagomedov was perhaps the biggest fight in UFC history, made up of antics that were beyond the scope of the competition.
Trash talk to McGregor ahead of the battle to proceed in unusually personal ways – They used racist abuse In a tweet talking about Narmmagomedov’s wife. Nurmagomedov later responded – by getting out of the cage after his victory and attacking McGregor’s training partner.
White and McGregor, of course, wanted a rematch, And the UFC helped chart a route for McGregor to fight three times In 2020 as a buildup. But McGregor fought only once in part due to the coronovirus epidemic, and the other fighters skillfully overcame him.
When Nurmagomedov retired in October, Due to complications from Kovid-19 after his father’s death, discussions of matchmaking had to be withdrawn throughout the game.
Last weekend, before the UFC’s first card aired on ABC, White said that he had spoken to Nurmagomedov and “had a feeling” that if either McGregor or Pourier – or other mild bouts in Saturday’s card The fighters, Dan Hooker and UFC newcomer Michael Chandler – demonstrated superior skills, ending his retirement by fighting Narmmagomedov.
But this week, Nurmagomedov said He did not have plans to fight in the future. And so the expectations of the UFC – for Saturday’s card, for future pay-per-view fights, for the lightweight division – rest more heavily on McGregor.
If Poyer wins, he will be queuing for a shot at a title fight, and McGregor will go down the rankings of the lightweight division with two defeats in only three UFC appearances in the last four years.
But if McGregor wins, he’ll probably get that title shot, and the UFC will get another lucrative pay-per-view match – even if questions about McGregor’s personal conduct arise.