Conor McGregor told hype around his fights has faded ahead of UFC return

Conor McGregor has been in active in UFC since 201 (Getty Images)

Conor McGregor has been in active in UFC since 201 (Getty Images)

Conor McGregor has been warned that he is longer as big a draw for UFC fans as he once was by former Bellator MMA champion Ben Askren.

The 33-year-old’s career has been severely disrupted across the past five years, with a series of injuries, Covid-19 interference and legal issues meaning he has fought only four times in UFC since the end of 2016. Of those four bouts, three have ended in defeat.

At the peak of of his powers McGregor was one of the most popular athletes in world sport, and remains the biggest name in the UFC’s ranks despite his controversy outside of the octagon and his long periods of inactivity.

The Irishman earned in the region of $100m for his exhibition boxing match against Floyd Mayweather in 2017, and each of the ten top-selling UFC events of all-time have included him on the bill. Fighter-turned-commentator Askren, though, says McGregor must be aware that his “hype” is dropped ahead of a potential comeback in 2022.

“When McGregor was competing for UFC titles, there was so much hype around him,” Askren told MMA Island.

“And now a McGregor fight is still a big fight but it’s not the same thing that it was, right? I mean we’re thinking when he’s getting ready to fight Jose Aldo or Eddie Alvarez, those fights were just so gigantic and nowadays lost, three or four maybe or four or five, something like that. People will be excited for the next Conor McGregor fight but they are not going to be as excited as they were back then.”

McGregor’s most recent UFC contests saw him beaten by Dustin Poirier, first in Dubai last January and then again in Las Vegan in July. His last win came against Donald Cerrone two years, when a flurry of head kicks and punches earned him both the victory and the award for performance of the night.

Khabib Nurmagomedov took the UFC lightweight championship from McGregor back in 2018, winning via submission.