CAPE TOWN - Conor McGregor can cement his legacy as “one of the best ever” in his upcoming UFC lightweight title fight against Russia’s Khabib Nurmagomedov. Or at least that’s the opinion of UFC president Dana White.
McGregor has not competed in MMA since 2016 when he knocked out Eddie Alvarez to become the first person to simultaneously hold UFC titles in two different weight divisions. He last stepped into the ring in 2017 when he crossed codes to box Floyd Mayweather Jnr, the undefeated multiple title winner (in five weight classes) who came out of retirement for the bout.
But despite his inactivity, the Irishman has continued to make headlines. First, for his inactivity and being stripped of the lightweight title as a result. And more recently for his attack on a bus that contained Nurmagamedov, in New York in April, before the fight was made.
McGregor was charged with multiple counts of assault and criminal mischief for throwing a metal dolly through the window of the bus, but plead guilty to disorderly conduct in July and was sentenced to five days' community service.
The 30-year-old has also regularly been accused of dodging Nurmagomedov because many believe the Dagestani could exploit his perceived grappling and wrestling weaknesses. In spite of this, White told ESPN.com it isn’t “a crossroads fight” for McGregor.
"This is a very important fight for both fighters. For Khabib, who is undefeated and who is looked at as one of the best fighters in the world, beating Conor is massive for him,” he said.
"And obviously for Conor, coming back from a two-year layoff, in my opinion - and it's crazy to say this because of how popular he is around the world - but he's one of the most underrated fighters in the UFC. Everybody thinks because he speaks so well and gets so crazy and everything, it makes him sort of less of a fighter. It's the weirdest thing I've ever seen."
"When you talk about pound-for-pound, best in the world? This is a guy who is actually living proof for pound-for-pound. He (McGregor) jumps from weight class to weight class and fights people in different weight classes," White said.
"He went out and boxed Floyd Mayweather, and he is literally willing to fight anybody in the world who thinks they're better than him. It's what makes him so popular. This isn't a crossroads fight. This is another fight to cement his legacy as one of the best to ever do it."
McGregor vs Nurmagomedov takes place on October 6 in Las Vegas.