Can Conor McGregor still hang with the UFC’s elite? We’re about to find out

While McGregor has fought in title fights over the years, while he was riding a wave of momentum and, more importantly, was winning, this is arguably the biggest bout of his career.
Can Conor McGregor still hang with the UFC’s elite? We’re about to find out

Conor McGregor, right, and Dustin Poirier are kept apart by UFC President Dana White during a press conference ahead of UFC 264 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Picture: Thomas King/Sportsfile

The much-anticipated trilogy fight between Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas is fast approaching and for the Dubliner there’s a big question hanging over him: Can he still cut it with the best in the sport?

While McGregor has fought in title fights over the years, while he was riding a wave of momentum and, more importantly, was winning, this is arguably the biggest bout of his career.

This is a make or break fight for McGregor, in the sense can he still hang with the UFCs elite? Back-to-back losses against Poirier along with his defeat to former UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov back in October 2018 mean McGregor’s last win in the lightweight division was five years ago against Eddie Alvarez.

Ahead of the pair’s last meeting, McGregor admitted to a 80% boxing-20% MMA approach as he was lining up a potential boxing match with Manny Pacquiao if he defeated Poirier back in January, a plan that ultimately didn’t pan out.

McGregor has gone back to basics for this camp, spending the first half of this camp in Dubai solely working on his conditioning, before getting a custom-made gym built in California where he and his teammates have spent the last number of weeks.

The camp has been on full lockdown in comparison to previous camps. Only a small number of sparring partners from SBG Ireland and his coaches. In McGregor’s last two camps we saw boxing coach Phillip Sutcliffe along with several sparring partners from Crumlin boxing club, none of whom are a part of the build-up this time around.

McGregor refused all media obligations up until this week and decided not to bring his family over during this training camp, nor will they be present on fight night.

McGregor needs this win: A loss here and the questions will get louder. Is he passed it? Are his best years behind him? While a defeat won’t necessarily mean his retirement from the sport, he will be a long way from his championship fighter days.

A McGregor win on the other hand, and he may well be in for a title shout before the year is out.

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