Back in June 2020, Conor McGregor’s millions of devoted followers across the world received the devastating news that he was retiring not just from UFC, but from all forms of fighting. Among the reasons that he cited was that there were few, if any, opponents worthy of him anymore.
While this seemed like quite a far-fetched claim to make, especially with Khabib’s domination of their recent fight, McGregor is no stranger to stirring up controversy with some pretty out-there statements. His eccentric personality has always created huge hype around fights and his trash talk is unlike any other fighters in history. His impressive results have ensured that he is always valued at short odds in the UFC betting and he’s brought in record numbers of viewing numbers time and time again.
One of the very best examples of this came following his first dalliance in the boxing ring. After being beaten in the 10th round of his bout with Floyd Mayweather he continued to claim that any re-match would be a very different story. Within this he also implied that the subsequent retirement of Mayweather could be short lived if he could persuade him to fight again, whether in the boxing ring or the MMA octagon.
Certainly, money wasn’t the motivation, it was more a question of hurt pride. After all, although he was only due to receive $30 million for the Mayweather fight, he allegedly ended up pocketing around $100 million.
The fact that McGregor was prepared to switch disciplines and enter the ring suggests that another change of tack, this time to the WWE, might not be completely out of the question.
It’s certainly something that his huge fanbase would welcome with open arms.
The social media phenomenon
When one looks at the number of people who follow him, the figures are quite staggering. On Instagram alone the figure 33.5 million people greatly overshadowing the numbers for UFC itself.
It also seems like, even when he’s out of the limelight, he continues to gather more fans. In the year in which he wasn’t fighting in the lead-up to last January’s contest with Donald Cerrone, he added 5.3 million followers. This continued to build on the huge increases he saw after the Mayweather fight when he had a mere 20 million followers. And, no doubt, all his fans, new and old, were delighted to see him despatch Cerrone in a blistering 40 seconds of action.
So, with a global notoriety of this size, it’s hardly surprising that the WWE would welcome his arrival with open arms. As to whether this will actually come to pass, there have been several hints, some not so subtle, that it’s a distinct possibility.
The signs are all there
Back in July, an image appeared on Instagram showing McGregor posing with both the UFC and WWE world champion belts.
Plus, in a typically aggressive way, he also launched an attack on the WWE CEO Vince McMahon by accompanying the image with the caption “McGregor vs McMahon CEO Flashmatch.”
The 32-year-old fighter went further still by also tagging McMahon’s daughter, Stephanie, in the post in a flagrant attempt to make sure that her father got to hear about it
But if he does make the transition to the new discipline, it’s likely that he’ll receive quite a frosty reception from some of the other fighters. Back in 2016 he announced that he thought most of them were “dweebs” and singled out John Cena for especial criticism for being old, overweight and washed up. Perhaps this was getting in his trash-talk early as part of a long game, but most people doubt this.
An easy transition to make?
When it comes to making the transition from MMA to WWE, it’s been done before – and with some success. The name that springs first to mind is Brock Lesnar, although it seems like a move that’s set to be reversed.
In terms of how he adapted to the new discipline, the results were far from disappointing. In a total of eight matches he won five, three by a knockout and lost three. What’s more, all of his victories were within three rounds – a pattern that McGregor would surely also want to repeat.
Other fighters who have successfully made the transition include Ronda Rousey and Cain Velasquez – and let’s not forget Tyson Fury’s amazing debut in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia when he easily defeated Braun Strowman at WWE Crown Jewel in October 2019.
The real question to ask is whether McGregor would be a good fit for WWE. On the plus side, he’s shown himself amply able to play the PR game. And his huge following on social media would bring along many new fans to the sport.
He’s also shown himself to be a highly skilled exponent of the skill of trash-talking, an essential pre-requisite of any wrestler who wants to be able to instigate a feud or two. It all adds up to an appealing combination that can’t help but appeal to Vince McMahon.
But, on the minus side, he might find that his style of fighting which typically relies on him staying upright and using his fists as his principle weapons might not be the most successful combination in the wrestling ring.
It won’t be happening for a while
While it’s an intriguing prospect to see how it all pans out it’s not something that’s likely to happen for a while.
Before it can there’s the small matter of his clash with Dustin Poirier on January 24th. It’s going to be very interesting to see if will be if McGregor will truly capitalise on the hype around his comeback or perhaps this will see his UFC career come to an end.
Whatever happens, it’s certain to be quite a fight with many people hoping it will provide the impetus he needs to start a whole new WWE chapter to his remarkable career.