2016 was the year of Conor McGregor. Over the course of 12 months, he revolutionized the fight business. His spectacular knockout victory over José Aldo in 2015 earned him a title shot at lightweight in early 2016, but an injury to the then-champion Rafael dos Anjos triggered a series of events that would push McGregor’s stardom to the next level.
Nate Diaz showed up to face McGregor on short notice. And after a back-and-forth fight, he managed to upset the Irishman, winning via second round rear naked choke. An immediate rematch was scheduled, and there was palpable interest from non-typical fans.
The buildup to UFC 202 was widely viewed. An astonishing amount of fans bought the pay-per-view and witnessed McGregor get revenge over Diaz in one of the most exciting fights of the year. The UFC parlayed McGregor’s story of redemption with his pursuit of making history. And, gave him a chance at the lightweight title against Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205. McGregor’s performance against Alvarez was perfection. Over the course of a round and a half, the Irishman dominated the Philadelphia native en route to a second round knockout.
In 2016, McGregor took over the sport of MMA, but after UFC 205, he decided to take a break. Since then, he has made a number of bizarre decisions.
In the last few days, details have emerged of McGregor’s plans to stream an hour-long interview hosted by Ariel Helwani on Pay-Per-View. While the price is only $4.25, this move shows that his motives are no longer fan-oriented. He is instead focused purely on his own financial gain.
It is impossible to deny that Conor McGregor has some of the most passionate fans in the sport of mixed martial arts. And to them, this announcement should come as a kick in teeth. Since his UFC debut, tens of thousands of Irish fans have spent their hard-earned money to follow their idol. Trips to the U.S. and UFC tickets cost Irish fans thousands of euros. The fact that McGregor is charging a premium to watch him interviewed is shocking. What makes this worse is that the fans that pay for this will be the ones that made McGregor a multi-millionaire. The fans that stayed up all night to watch him fight. And, the fans that have supported him through thick and thin.
Adding to the absurdity of McGregor charging fans to watch an interview is the fact that he has nothing worthwhile to talk about. He is on a self-imposed hiatus from the sport. Plus his next opponent has yet to be decided, as Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson are scheduled to fight for the interim lightweight title at UFC 209. In all likelihood the fans who tune in will just witness McGregor hype a fight with Floyd Mayweather. A fight that is never going to happen. Or drop soundbites about Ferguson and Nurmagomedov, both of whom he has avoided fights with.
McGregor’s pursuit of financial security is understandable. I, for one, would buy any fight card that he is appearing on. That said, it leaves a sour taste in my mouth that he is charging fans for something he should be doing for free.
McGregor has elected to take a break from the sport. If he wants more money, then he should have stepped into the cage against either Ferguson or Nurmagomedov at UFC 209. At the end of the day, Conor McGregor is a fighter. He should fight instead of preying on his fans by charging a pay-per-view premium for an interview. This practice is ridiculous, and if any other fighter had done this, they would be laughed at.
Many called out Ronda Rousey on her refusal to do media ahead of UFC 207, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s far worse to charge your fans to listen to an interview than to do no interview at all.
In the fight game, things change constantly. It’s time for McGregor to give back to his fans rather than taking their money. As UFC 196 showed, no fighter is invincible. And after every loss, you need your fans to build you back up. McGregor owes his fans a lot, and it’s high time that he starts to appreciate them.