Conor McGregor’s plans for 2021 have been thrown into chaos following his loss to Dustin Poirier last weekend, with Manny Pacquiao’s representatives indicating that they are no longer interested in a money-spinning event with him.
McGregor’s second round knockout in the UFC 257 main event defeat appears that it will hurt more than the Irishman’s pride. The former champion, who was fighting for the first time since a 40-second shellacking of Donald Cerrone a year ago, suffered the first ever knockout defeat of his career in his rematch with American Poirier in Abu Dhabi – a result that grinds to a halt McGregor’s stated aim of recapturing the UFC’s lightweight world title this year.
As well as that, the defeat also seems to have thrown a spanner in the works of what was predicted to be a highly lucrative return to boxing against multiple weight world champion Manny Pacquiao, after the Filipino’s reps indicated that the KO defeat to Poirier has sucked any interest they had out of McGregor’s potential return to the ring.
“Very unfortunate – it looked like Conor looked past Dustin and got knocked out,” said Sean Gibbons, president of Manny Pacquiao promotions.
“Maybe he had the Senator (Pacquiao) on his mind. I think the demand for the fight is not there, presently. Conor has some business to clean up and handle in the UFC.
“It’s a bummer. It could have been fun for as long as it lasted and no leg kicks would have made a world of difference.”
That last part of the statement will likely fester with McGregor. The Dubliner has often been hailed as the UFC’s premier knockout artist but was outgunned last Saturday by Poirier who employed a strategy of stifling the Irishman’s movement with a torrent of scything kicks.
He joked after the fight: “There are none of them leg kicks in boxing, you know what I mean?” But the chances of McGregor facing Pacquiao in the ring appear to have plummeted, judging by the’ comments.
“I always did want to focus on my MMA career but I’m also open,” McGregor said. “I’ll just see what happens. I don’t know what will happen.
“That Manny fight was happening. It was as good as done. I just want to get in and get back into a bounce, especially against that style of fighter, and not take those kicks. Not play with those kicks. It’s just a motherf*cker to take.”
McGregor isn’t exactly wanting for cash nowadays but regardless of what his bank balance says, the prospect of a fight with Pacquaio would have likely generated the second-largest payday of his combat sports career after his superfight with Floyd Mayweather in 2017.
He was understood to have earned around $130 million for that fight, and could have reasonably expected the Pacquiao payday to be far north of his usual UFC paychecks.
Even more, the defeat has dropped McGregor several rungs on the UFC lightweight title ladder and also likely denied him his stated aim of rematching heated rival Khabib Nurmagomedov.
It remains to be seen exactly what McGregor’s next move will be. With his options now far more limited than they were this time last week, the brash Dubliner finds himself in the unusual position of not being able to call the shots.