With Khabib Nurmagomedov’s decision to retire at the absolute pinnacle of MMA, it left his employers with something of a void to fill and although the departure of the Russian from the UFC would have left Dana White with a headache, his symptoms will clear in the next few weeks.
Because just like the UFC’s President, everyone was asking just who would be able to fill the huge main-event shoes that Nurmagomedov has left behind and although this fight league is known for having a conveyor belt of talent, trying to replicate the stature of the The Eagle would not be easy.
Which means, when it comes to box office appeal and the ability to garner mainstream traction – something that for all the undefeated legend’s talent, he perhaps failed to really break down such walls, there is only one man that can be relied upon.
That man of course is none other than Conor McGregor and with the Irishman returning to the octagon at the end of January, it means Dana White has once again been given a license to print an abundance of money.
Money that will come with a slew of PPV purchases for the next instalment in the long running series of numbered events and with UFC 257 being headlined by McGregor and fellow combatant Dustin Poirier, sparks are expected to fly.
Of course, for those in the know, this will be the second time in which they will square off and Poirier will hope for better fortunes, than when they met back at UFC 178 in Las Vegas seven years ago.
That night saw McGregor land an emphatic flurry of punches on his foe and with only 106 seconds of fight time elapsed in the first round, he was awarded victory by virtue of a devastating technical knockout.
The win in Las Vegas saw the Dublin born fighter improve his overall MMA record to 16-2 and it would also prove to be his twelfth successive win, with four of those now coming under the banner of his new UFC employers.
McGregor would first make little work of Marcus Brimmage, Max Holloway, and Diego Brandao before getting the better of Poirier for the first time and it was that September 2014 success, which served as the gateway to far bigger fights to come.
After clearing that hurdle, Dennis Siver would be no match four months later and after picking up a fifth straight UFC win in Boston, an opportunity at the interim UFC Featherweight Championship would be afforded to him against Chad Mendes.
An opportunity that he would not only take with both hands but also convert into undisputed status after beating Jose Aldo at UFC 194. However, his crown would later be removed due to a lengthy stint inactivity.
A step up to Welterweight would mean a pairing with Nate Diaz and the best sports betting sites would have been required to pay out plenty of money in their first meeting, as Diaz surprisingly made McGregor tap out at UFC 196.
Revenge would be served up at UFC 202, as a decision victory was recorded over a man who he almost despised at this point and after making light work of Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205, it was time for him to be humbled by Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 229.
The fallout from defeat and the ruckus that happened afterwards meant that a near two-year cessation of activity for the notorious one and when he did finally make his return, he wasted no time in getting the better of Donald Cerrone at UFC 246.
A victory that will have been just over a year by the time ‘McGregor vs Poirier 2’ takes place at the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi on January 24th and one wonders, if this fight will end just as quickly as the first offering.
The only thing that may work in the favour of Dustin Poirier, who currently possesses an overall MMA record of 26-6(1), is that he has been more active than his upcoming opponent and in theory will carry less ring rust.
Then again, it doesn’t usually matter how much of a break Conor McGregor has between fights, because once the signal to fight has been given, he is as explosive as they come and for that reason alone, he must be the overwhelming favourite for victory at the end of the month.