Conor McGregor's future is in doubt after a freak leg break in his defeat to Dustin Poirier; the former UFC two-weight champion will spend an extended period on the sidelines, with no guarantee he will ever come back
Sunday 11 July 2021 19:50, UK
Conor McGregor sustained a serious leg break to cast doubt on his future as he lost to lightweight rival Dustin Poirier via doctor's stoppage in round one at UFC 264 in Las Vegas.
The Irishman, 32, started aggressively by targeting Poirier with leg kicks, but the American quickly capitalised after seeming to hear McGregor's leg crack during one exchange.
Poirier, also 32, took his opponent to the ground, where he dominated before the fighters returned to their feet.
Both swung and missed and McGregor stepped back before his leg collapsed beneath him, sparking speculation he may have suffered a bone fracture.
McGregor somehow survived until the end of the round when the bout was stopped.
In a dramatic conclusion to the encounter, their third following McGregor's victory in 2014 and his defeat in January, Poirier called his opponent a "dirtbag" when interviewed by commentator Joe Rogan after the fight.
Poirier accused McGregor of pushing his fingers inside his gloves as they were grappling and said he was trying to tell referee Herb Dean about the cheating.
McGregor made his own claims to Rogan after the fight.
"I was boxing the ears off him and kicking the legs off him," McGregor said. "This is not over," he added.
The loss takes McGregor to 1-3 in the cage since 2016, when he left the UFC to take on Floyd Mayweather in boxing.
With the victory, Poirier has earned the chance to recapture the lightweight title he held on an interim basis in 2019 prior to a loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov.
The freak leg break in his trilogy bout with Poirier will see former UFC two-weight champion McGregor spend an extended period on the sidelines, with no guarantee he will ever come back.
McGregor's brash manner and highlight-reel knockouts saw him quickly rise to fame as a champion in two weight classes, but since adding the lightweight title in November 2016, he has struggled to fight consistently.
A boxing match with Floyd Mayweather in August 2017 saw his focus shift away from the octagon, and despite losing to the American he still netted around $140m.
McGregor tried to maximise his leverage with the UFC, calling for a share in the company and announcing regular retirements to try to improve his bargaining position, but UFC president Dana White proved to be more than a match at the negotiating table.
He lost his lightweight title to Khabib Nurmagomedov in an ill-tempered bout in October 2018, but by then he was well on his way to becoming a tycoon, producing his own whiskey and a line of tailored suits.
However, a return to mixed martial arts in a welterweight bout in January 2020 proved to be a roaring success as he knocked out Donald Cerrone, and McGregor said that he planned to have a season of fights during that year.
Those plans were disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and though the UFC was quickly staging events again in the United States, it had no desire to put McGregor onto a card without a paying audience.
That left him on the shelf until January of this year, when he met Poirier for the second time in Abu Dhabi.
Simultaneously preparing for a proposed boxing match with Manny Pacquiao, McGregor's boxing stance left him susceptible to leg kicks and Poirier eventually knocked him out in the second round.
After his latest Vegas loss and leg break, UFC president Dana White said McGregor would have surgery in a Las Vegas hospital on Sunday morning and there would be fights on the table for him when he is fit again.
Given the enormous wealth he has already amassed and his recent run of poor results, the question is whether or not he will want them.