Big and tough as he was, King Kong needed the Empire State Building; the big Silverback just wouldn’t have looked right roaring away on Big Ben. The point? You can be the biggest baddest fighter on the planet, but you will always need the right platform for the world to sit up and take notice. And for the bold, brash McGregor, the UFC is no longer big enough to generate global interest.
That’s not to say Conor’s UFC fight won’t grab attention, but the days of a galvanised global audience tuning in to watch a plucky Irishman pull himself up from the depths of nowhere to take his place at the top of the fighting world are long gone. Conor is now the rich chap who pulls funny faces while holding a bottle of whiskey. And why not? His dreams have come true. He’s wealthy beyond his wildest dreams and the notion that he gets out of bed every day thinking about bleeding in the corner of some gym, instead of cruising the Med in his Lamborghini yacht is laughable. But that doesn’t mean the fighting spirit has gone. It just means it’s time to accept the obvious and step out from the locker room and into the bright lights of the celebrity exhibition circuit. Before we stop caring altogether.
Mayweather Jr does that just fine. All the cars in the garage, all the money in the bank, his career fights have allowed him to get up in the morning and do absolutely whatever he wants, whenever he wants. And that’s as rare as rocking horse sh*t in the fight game. Floyd says he won’t go twelve rounds with professional boxers anymore. The world says ‘Phew’. But when Mayweather announces he’s collecting $9M to fight a three round exhibition match with a plucky Japanese kickboxer? The world says, “Hold my beer, I’ve got to see this.”
Same with Conor. Pure fight fans may want to see McGregor jobbing his way back up that UFC ladder that he climbs and falls with regular occurrence, but the big pay day is in entertainment, and it’s just not entertaining. Ask yourself this, if he had just one fight left, which would you pay to see? Conor beating Dustin Poirier in the Octagon, or Conor standing with a pair of boxing gloves hidden behind his back, in the middle of a boxing ring, goading on Manny Pacquiao? Yeah, thought so. And then Mayweather again? What about Conor and Mike Tyson? You’d pay good money for that. But Poirier and the UFC? Been there, done that. Conor is the absolute king of entertainment. Time for Kong to find his new Empire State Building.