Conor McGregor is arguably one of the most influential fighters in MMA history. He was the UFC's first simultaneous two-division champ and changed the way the fight game is played. But, the fight world almost lost him to an early retirement a year ago today.
Of course it was merely a hoax ...
In retrospect, it's clear that McGregor was just posturing to the UFC brass, who were not happy with his refusal to attend a UFC 200 pre-fight presser, alongside rival #NateDiaz.
But, what if McGregor really HAD retired a year ago today? How would that have affected the sport now?
Here's a look at what the fight world would have missed if McGregor never returned to the Octagon:
UFC 200 Debacle
As previously stated, McGregor was originally meant to headline #UFC200, but after he refused to attend a pre-fight press conference, he was pulled from the card.
Obviously, if McGregor retired, it really wouldn't have affected the card, as he was ultimately pulled from the event. But what if he had never posted the retirement tweet? What if White hadn't pulled him from the card? Perhaps UFC 200 would have been the blockbuster event that everyone predicted it would be, and not the huge disappointment it ended up becoming.
That Bottle Throwing Incident
McGregor made up for his lack of presence at the UFC 200 presser by creating a scene of epic proportions at the UFC 202 pre-fight press conference. He showed up 30 minutes late, then participated in a water-bottle-throwing incident with Diaz. The pair received huge fines (which were later reduced) from the Nevada Athletic Commission. The fine has yet to be paid.
If McGregor had retired, he'd be at least $25,000 richer (although he would have lost out on two of the biggest purses in MMA history). Also stricken from the record would be some of the wonderful memes that stemmed from McGregor and Diaz's scuffle.
#UFC202 was one of the biggest fight cards in UFC history. It broke pay-per-view records and catapulted the UFC into a huge payday (more about that later).
Without McGregor, however, the card would have, likely, sold like any other UFC PPV. Additionally, had McGregor retired, he would have missed out on a $3 million purse (along with pay-per-view points). McGregor's disclosed UFC 202 purse was considered the highest in UFC history ... until he broke his own record.
Shortly after UFC 200, the promotion sold for a whopping $4-billion. Now, this isn't solely due to McGregor, of course, but one could argue that if he wasn't included in the deal, the price tag could have been considerably smaller. It's no coincidence that the sale was finalized following UFC 202, after it was announced in July 2016. Apparently, UFC 200 was rumored to be the fight card investors were monitoring.
The Fur Coat Seen Around the World
Had McGregor retired last year, he may have never sported this epic outfit (pictured above), an homage to Joe Frazier, that he wore to promote #UFC205.
McGregor shocked the world when he defeated the lightweight champion, Eddie Alvarez, to become the champion of both the featherweight and lightweight divisions. One could argue that if McGregor had retired a year ago, he would not have fulfilled his destiny or secured his legacy for years to come.
He also made a recorded $3,590,000 for this bout, not including the millions he made on PPV buys.
Will He Ever Fight Floyd Mayweather?
Now, a year after that near-retirement McGregor is facing another historic fight; he's campaigning for a boxing match with legend Floyd Mayweather. This call out first seemed impossible, but as time goes on, it looks more and likely. If he had retired, he would have been coming off a loss, and fighting Mayweather wouldn't be as exciting. Not to mention Mayweather likely would not have entertained a fight with a retired MMA fighter coming off a loss.