UFC superstar Conor McGregor has promised to get back to his winning ways against Dustin Poirier at UFC 264 on July 10, but the crowning of a new champion in the UFC’s stacked lightweight division has revealed arguably the scariest matchup yet for McGregor. Charles Oliveira is the new king of the UFC’s lightweights, and the stalwart menace appears to be a huge challenge for anyone and everyone in the division.
That’s especially true for someone like McGregor, who prefers to stand and strike over having to fuss over grappling moves.
Add to it that Oliveira, 31, is just reaching the epoch of his personal journey in the sport and that McGregor is already the most famous UFC fighter ever and one of the richest celebrities in the world, and it makes the new UFC lightweight champion a nightmare matchup for McGregor.
That’s true even if McGregor doesn’t know it. McGregor posted, “Congrats to Olivera on becoming the 11th UFC lightweight champion. Wonder who Twelve is…”.
Oliveria knocked out Chandler in the second round of the main event of UFC 262 in Houston. He was Chandler’s nightmare, and now he looks the same for every single lightweight on the planet.
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McGregor’s Prime Was Magnificent, but He’s on the Slide
McGregor, 32, was the first UFC “champ champ” in history. He rose to fame by being the most dangerous fighter in the UFC’s featherweight ranks, then he shockingly won gold again in a second division at the same time by defeating Eddie Alvarez in 2016.
But McGregor hasn’t been the same fighter since accomplishing that trick. Since attempting to cross over into the boxing world to face Floyd Mayweather Jr. in 2017, McGregor has been a fighter on the slide.
He got stopped by Mayweather in the tenth round of that superfight boxing match, and he’s gone 1-2 since in his return to the UFC.
Sure, McGregor looked sensational when he defeated Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone in just 40 seconds at UFC 246 in January 2020. But bookending that feat, he was brutalized by Khabib Nurmagomedov the year prior at UFC 229, and he suffered a similar fate against Dustin Poirier at UFC 257 in January 2021.
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Can McGregor Return to Form?
McGregor seems to want to get back to his roots. What that’s meant so far is a more volatile and expressive person on social media. But the veracity of his return to prime fighting form has yet to be revealed.
In fact, one might easily suggest Poirier should be favored in the third fight against McGregor. After all, “The Diamond” took everything McGregor had to offer in the first fight four months ago and still ended up stopping the “Notorious” MMA star with vicious strikes.
That McGregor remains a slight favorite on the betting market is probably only due to his incredible popularity at this point. Sure, the version of McGregor that beat “Cowboy” Cerrone in 2020 looked great, but that Cerrone has gone 0-5 in his last six UFC fights.
So was McGregor’s dominant win over Cerrone really that impressive in hindsight? One view says it was, but a more reasonable one probably says McGregor beat up a fighter everyone else is beating up, too.
Will McGregor Get Title Shot?
McGregor might not even make his way to the title shot.
After all, McGregor still has to beat Poirier at UFC 264, and that’s far from a given victory.
Moreover, UFC president Dana White revealed pundits were wrong about thinking the winner of UFC 262 would face the winner of UFC 264 in his first title defense.
As far as White is concerned, there are plenty of other options on the table.
Regardless, McGregor’s return to glory would seem to require going through the new champ at 155. After UFC 262, that looks like a hell of a task.
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