This week’s edition of the Sunday Supplement takes an in depth look at Conor McGregor’s historical win and what’s next for him, as well as the retirement of Miesha Tate.
Conor McGregor Makes History
Conor McGregor once again backed up his words last night at UFC 205, becoming the first fighter in UFC history to hold two belts in two different weight division simultaneously.
McGregor put on a masterful display against Eddie Alvarez and, after several knockdowns, McGregor finally finished Alvarez with a second round TKO to fulfill his dream of becoming a dual UFC Champion.
It a shame for a great champion and veteran of the sport like Alvarez to lose in such fashion at the biggest event in MMA history. He was simply outclassed and lost to the better fighter on the night.
Without a doubt (and despite what Dana White says about Ronda Rousey), Conor McGregor is the biggest star in UFC history. Not only is he the best talker and hype man that we have seen in MMA, but now he has the history and legacy behind him to back all of that hype up – not GSP, not B.J. Penn, not Jon Jones, not Anderson Silva. Conor McGregor is the first man to become a dual champion, and that counts for a lot.
This win could turn to to be both a blessing and a curse for the UFC. The blessing being that they got their big history-making main event for UFC 205 in MSG ending with a moment people will remember forever as well as McGregor becoming an even bigger draw for them now.
The buyrate for the event could top 1.6 million buys, McGregor’s biggest so far. It drew a sellout crowd in MSG of 20,427 and a $17.7 million gate, a record for both the UFC and Madison Square Garden.
The curse, however, is now McGregor’s worth had multiplied again and he knows it. He is their biggest star and draw, he is the champion of two of their weight divisions, and going by his comments in the UFC 205 post-fight press conference, there may be difficulty ahead.
McGregor announced that he has a child on the way and that he wants what he believes he is “owed” now – basically a piece of ownership in the company, a way for him and his family to be set for life after his fighting days are long gone.
It came across clearly that he is done just taking any fight and, although he is getting paid better than anyone else in the UFC, he won’t settle for just a big paycheck anymore. He has the UFC over a barrel in many ways. It’s very hard to see them giving in to his demands of getting some ownership in the company, but if he stays away, their biggest and most reliable draw is gone and two divisions are left in disarray as the true champion sits at home.
Despite the hurdles, possible next opponent’s for McGregor are being talked about already.
Tyron Woodley addressed rumors that McGregor wanted to go for his Welterweight Title next to become a triple champion after their little spat during fight week at the post-fight press conference. He said that although he believes that McGregor couldn’t handle him at that weight, he would take the fight for obvious reasons.
I can’t see this fight happening, as much as McGregor would love to add another belt to his collection, I doubt the Welterweight Title is doable. Woodley showed last night his power and speed in almost KO’ing Stephen Thompson in their majority draw.
McGregor may be a powerful puncher at 145 or 155 and may have done well against a blown up Lightweight Nate Diaz at Welterweight. A true Welterweight like Woodley, who is massive and could easily be a Middleweight if he wanted to, is a different story.
The power and speed would be too much for McGregor to bear, in my opinion, and would be a step too far for him. However, I doubt the UFC let’s this fight happen anyway, just in case McGregor does the unthinkable and wins a third belt, leading to another jammed up division as he picks and chooses fights.
Another option being talked about is Khabib Nurmagomedov, after he put in an impressive performance last night, getting the win over Michael Johnson on the UFC 205 undercard.
After the fight Nurmagomedov called out McGregor. Later, on the UFC Post-Fight Show on FS1, he commented further. “I don’t care about Conor or Eddie,” he said. “I know I am the real deal. I tell Dana, you have to talk to me for real. No more trash talking. You know I deserve this, you have to send me a real contract. Eight-and-a-half years undefeated, why not? … I think I am the real deal of the Lightweight Division.”
Nurmagomedov is undefeated in the UFC since 2012 and is 24-0 in his career. After seeing his dominant ground work last night, it would be a tough fight for McGregor. That said, you also have Tony Ferguson waiting in the wings for a title shot also, a man who impressed with a win over former Lightweight Champion, Rafael dos Anjos last weekend.
I doubt McGregor comes back in the next few months, so it seems likely that Ferguson and Nurmagomedov will do battle with the winner being the man at the head of the line for the first shot at McGregor.
When it comes to the Featherweight Title, it doesn’t look likely that Jose Aldo is ever going to get his rematch with McGregor. McGregor has outgrown that division long ago and will probably be stripped of the title before he comes around to wanting or is able to defend it again, leaving Aldo unfulfilled.
It will be interesting to see where McGregor goes from here, but being on top of the world only lasts for so long. He should enjoy it while it lasts, as he has many hard challenges ahead. It was a tough journey to get those two belts and it may be an impossible task to hold onto them.
Whatever happens now, Conor McGregor cemented his legacy last night and is now a bonafide legend of the sport and that is something which cannot be taken away from him.
Miesha Tate Retires
Of course the biggest buzz and news of the week is McGregor’s history-making win which overshadowed the retirement of a women’s MMA pioneer.
After her disappointing loss to an impressive and rising Raquel Pennington, former UFC and Strikeforce Women’s Bantamweight Champion Miesha Tate announced her retirement during her post-fight interview with Joe Rogan.
“I’m announcing my retirement tonight,” she said. “It’s my time. I had a lot more to give, but I had to pull it out of myself. I love this sport, thank you, but this is it for me.”
Most thought that her fight with Pennington, whom Tate coached on season 18 of The Ultimate Fighter, would see Tate make a statement on her way back to another title shot, perhaps against the winner of Nunes and Rousey. It didn’t turn out to be the case.
Tate looked out of sorts and not on her game as a hungry Pennington outworked and pretty much dominated the former champion in every aspect of the fight, on the feet in particular, with an effective jab throughout, in the clinch including a few standing guillotine attempts, one almost ending the fight and on the ground where she was able to neutralize Tate’s submission attempts.
It was not the Miesha Tate that we all expected to see and the judges scored it 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28 for a unanimous decision in favor of Pennington, who looks to have a bright future in the Women’s Bantamweight Division.
Pennington paid tribute to her former TUF coach after the fight “To get against Miesha, I love Miesha, she’s someone I look up to,” she said. “Someone’s your idol and then she becomes her rival.”
Now knowing that Tate had retirement on her mind, it’s easy to see why she was unfocused and didn’t have much to offer in the fight.
It’s a shame to see a pioneer of Women’s MMA go out on a performance like that. I do think that she made the right call to retire at this point, though.
Her ultimate goal for several years seemed to be her quest to win the UFC Title. She was a champion in Strikeforce, but her career seemed incomplete with the UFC Women’s Bantamweight accolade, especially for someone so important to the rise of women’s MMA.
She finally realised that dream against Holly Holm earlier this year and I feel like that was the beginning of the end for Tate.
Once she lost the belt to Amanda Nunes in devastating fashion at UFC 200 and the prospect of a third fight with Ronda Rousey was off the table for the foreseeable future, Tate may have been treading water in a division which had a lot of younger and at this point hungrier fighters like the champion Amanda Nunes, Julianna Pena, Raquel Pennington, and more.
Miesha has nothing more to prove at this point. She will go down in history as one of the important figures in women’s MMA history. She won both the UFC and Strikeforce belts in her career and her rivalry with Ronda Rousey is another big highlight which makes her career stand out.
Tate’s career ends with an 18-7 record and victories in five of her past seven fights. It’s sad to see her go. She will no doubt have a bright career ahead working either with the UFC in another role, as a panelist for example as she has done in the past or in other areas outside of MMA.
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S SUNDAY SUPPLEMENT: Michael Bisping and the UFC Middleweight Division Dilemma