'Conor vs Old Man in Pub II': McGregor 'comeback' jibes show need to make positive headlines again
McGregor took to Twitter over the weekend to tease what many are taking to be the date and location of his UFC comeback.
“Dublin, December 14th,” the Irishman wrote to his 7.7 million followers, setting off a frenzy of expectation that he is finally set to return for the first time since being submitted by Russian lightweight king Khabib Nurmagomedov in Las Vegas in October of last year.
Dublin, December 14th.— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) September 16, 2019
The octagon last headed to Dublin in 2015, while McGregor has not fought in his home city since his victory against Diego Brandao on a UFC Fight Night card in July of 2014.
But while the return of the man still seen as MMA’s biggest star was a welcome prospect for some, many took the chance to land digs at McGregor over his recent misdemeanours – not least footage which showed him appearing to land a punch on an elderly man in a Dublin pub this year.
“Court?” one Twitter user wrote in reply to McGregor’s presumed comeback tweet.
Court?— O’Sullivan (@BeardedWarMutt) September 16, 2019
Others posted a mocked-up Tale of the Tape for McGregor against an elderly man.
Conor McGregor vs Old Man in Irish Pub II— Jack (@jackdmallett) September 16, 2019
While the jibes over McGregor's post can be taken as standard social media trolling, they also highlight the dilemma the Irishman is facing at a critical juncture in his MMA career.
For all his superstardom, McGregor is in desperate need of a successful octagon return to start making headlines for all the right reasons again.
His last victory came against Eddie Alvarez in November 2016, which saw him earn ‘champ champ’ status as he added the lightweight title to his featherweight strap.
But following his unsuccessful return against Nurmagomedov – and subsequent six-month suspension for the post-fight melee that marred that bout – the 31-year-old McGregor has seen several mooted fights fall through, including against veteran lightweight contender Donald 'Cowboy' Cerrone.
Cerrone was in action at UFC Vancouver this weekend, where he suffered a first-round knockout defeat to Justin Gaethje in a highly-awaited match-up.
Gaethje is widely seen as a potential next opponent for McGregor – whom he has branded "a sh*t human” over the Dublin pub incident – although the American indicated after his victory over Cerrone that he would rather wait in line to face the winner of the presumed fight between Nurmagomedov and long-time challenger Tony Ferguson.
"The Irishman's retired, I want a real fighter!" Gaethje declared in Canada.Also on rt.com 'The Irishman's retired, I want a REAL fighter!' Gaethje calls for title shot after stopping Cerrone
Former lightweight interim champ Dustin Poirier, beaten by Khabib in Abu Dhabib in their title unifier earlier this month, could be another McGregor rival, and recently expressed his wish to “run things back” with the man who handed him a loss in September 2014.
In a recent interview with ESPN, McGregor reeled off a list of names for possible next opponents also including the likes of Max Holloway, Frankie Edgar, and Jose Aldo.
There are options available, and whoever he ends up facing, McGregor would draw a huge crowd in Dublin and garner massive media interest.
But ‘The Notorious’ really will need to win to insert himself into the title frame once more, and at the same time ensure that he starts hitting the headlines for good reasons rather than bad.