The past two years have given Conor McGregor a lifetime’s worth of tumult, glory, chaos, embarrassment and likely every emotion that falls in between.
There was the highly publicized fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr. in 2017, the merging of the boxing and mixed martial arts worlds that vaulted McGregor’s name to the pinnacle of the sports world for a spell. There was his ill-fated return to the octagon, a loss to the relentless talent that is Khabib Nurmagomedov in 2018, a tilt that saw controversy spill from the match into a post-match brawl.
Then there was last year, bringing notoriety of a different variety, with McGregor arrested in Florida in March for smashing a man’s phone during an altercation outside a Miami Beach hotel, before he ran into further issues in August for assaulting a man in a Dublin pub.
A two-year stretch not for the faint of heart.
“They were phenomenal learning years — they were certainly phenomenal revenue years,” McGregor told Sportsnet’s Tim Micallef and Sid Seixeiro Wednesday in an interview on Tim & Sid. “I learned a lot, I still stayed above ground, and I’m utilizing these lessons in 2020, the year of perfect vision. I feel everything happens for a reason — we must go to certain places in our life to truly understand that, to truly learn.”
And with the overwhelming, rapidly rising level of fame that came McGregor’s way during the height of the lead-up to that Mayweather bout, there was certainly much to learn.
“Fame is a wild animal — it’s a wild animal that’s hard to get a hold of,” he said. “It comes with its pros and its cons like many things. But we’re just trying to focus on the pros — I feel like I’m accustomed to (having) everything scrutinized, certain things can run away.
“But look, fame is just a part of this game — it’s not what I got in this game for. I got in this game for the love of competition, for the love of fighting, and for the love of securing my family’s future. And that’s where I’m at right now — the fame is just a necessary part of it. It is what it is.”
— Tim and Sid (@timandsid) January 15, 2020
On Saturday night, “Mystic Mac” steps back into the octagon, lining up against veteran Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone at UFC 246 in Las Vegas, looking to right the wrongs of his past few years with a return to form. After that, it’s anyone’s guess what will come for McGregor, though the 31-year-old says he wants to get back to fighting consistently throughout the year, as he did in his earlier days in the game.
Seixeiro threw out three potential names for the former UFC featherweight and lightweight champion to consider: veteran boxing legend Manny Pacquiao, a boxing rematch with Mayweather, or a rematch in the octagon with Nurmagomedov.
All are on the table, it seems.
“I could very well fight all three,” McGregor told Micallef and Seixeiro. “There has been an offer on the table for the Manny Pacquiao fight, the Floyd fight has always been flirted with, and the Khabib rematch is inevitable. We’re looking for that to take place in Moscow, I want that bout to take place in Moscow. For me all I can see is just Rocky Balboa, you know what I mean — that’s what that reminds me of, and I just want to create for the fans and for the people, and it must take place. So I could very well fight all three of them this year.”
For what it’s worth, McGregor says if a rematch of his wildly hyped tilt with Mayweather was to take place, his approach would differ this time around.
“I’ve recently brought back all my old boxing coaches, which in reality was a grave error on my behalf, not to bring my original boxing coaches in for the Mayweather camp,” McGregor said.
“All in all, we’ve done well, but now I’m back with my team and a boxing world title is another lofty goal of mine, and another goal that I will achieve.”
Watch McGregor’s full interview with Tim & Sid in the video atop this post as the former champ discusses his renewed focus going into his bout with Cerrone at UFC 246, his reflections on the past two tumultuous years, and how he wants to be remembered when all is said and done.