Conor McGregor attracts a worldwide audience every time he steps foot inside the Octagon. Some want to see him continue to succeed and transcend to new heights, while others tune in to witness a potential upset, and have their questions answered, including the big one: What happens if he loses?
Fighting two divisions up from where he's champion, the title is not on the line - but everything else might be
On a warm March evening in Vegas, Nate Diaz provided some of those answers. A stunning second-round submission over the Irishman sparked craziness around the mixed martial arts world, culminating a thrilling battle in a main-event that was put together less than a fortnight before.
Nate Diaz shot to fame, with all major media outlets wanting a piece of the man who slayed the Notorious. Meanwhile, Conor McGregor took it all on the chin, just as his opponent did to various left hands and uppercuts in their first fight. Humbled, the Featherweight kingpin displayed respectable sportsmanship for an athlete whose critics berate him for doing the opposite.
|Image: FOX Sports|
We've seen the Notorious lose once, but what if it happens again? One of the biggest drawing factors for McGregor was his aura of mystery, the questions surrounding what happens if someone beats him, and how he'll respond, but a second loss will leave little to find out.
Should Nate Diaz once again pull off the victory, then he will almost certainly force the champion to go back down to 145 lbs and defend his throne. Even if he has the title, the factor of suffering two losses to the Stockton based fighter will be detrimental - not just on how he is perceived, but his own psyche, knowing that the American veteran is a man he was unable to conquer.
Greatness in sports, especially the fight game, is determined not just on how you win, but how you respond after losing too. Epic comebacks and resurgences are more than just the Hollywood cliche, and perhaps McGregor will need to channel his inner hero to defeat Diaz. If not, he could become a box-office bomb.
It seems that he is aware of what is at stake. Even temporarily retiring via Twitter after he refused to promote the fight due to training commitments shows how much he is putting on the line.
Before UFC 196, he was the biggest star in the sport. Fixing what went wrong in the loss to Diaz and coming back stronger may make him better than ever. A loss though, would send him down-spiralling.
This fight may make or break Conor McGregor. He simply cannot afford to lose.
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