Conor McGregor is an MMA superstar, having won both the featherweight and lightweight titles in the UFC. However, in what was his first ever professional boxing match against Floyd Mayweather in August, he earned more in a single fight than he had in the entirety of his 24 career MMA bouts.
That is, of course, despite the fact that Conor McGregor is far and away UFC’s biggest earner, having broken the fight purse record in MMA with a $3 million payday in his defeat to Nate Diaz at UFC 202. He again matched that pay packet in the Diaz rematch at UFC 205, but his total career earnings in MMA still “only” stand at around $27 million. Pump that up with around $7 million in sponsorships, and you’re looking at around $34 million in career earnings – that is, before he stepped into the boxing ring.
Source: Conor McGregor via Facebook
In just one exhibition fight with Floyd Mayweather, Conor is believed to have made between $75-$100 million dollars. It’s a huge gulf in pay compared to his MMA paycheques.
And, as Conor once famously said in the build-up to the Mayweather match, “boxing is just half a fight” compared to MMA, which is a far more brutal discipline and provides a significantly higher risk of injury or worse to the fighter.
So, the question is: would McGregor prefer to fight another exhibition-style boxing match for upwards of $50 million, or return to the UFC to defend his title for less than $10 million? It’s hard to blame Conor – who recently became a father for the first time – to be hesitant to return to the Octagon.
Indeed, the latest tips online suggest the Notorious One is set to be stripped of his UFC Lightweight title due to inactivity – just as he was with his Featherweight belt. Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson lie in wait for McGregor in the Lightweight division currently, but who could Conor fight if he opts to stick with boxing?
Well, undoubtedly the biggest name and fiercest opponent he could face is 39-year-old Manny Pacquiao. Pacman is coming to the end of his career, especially after his surprise defeat to Jeff Horn in 2017 which saw him lose his WBO Welterweight belt. But one last bumper payday could surely provide significant interest the Philippine fighter. Plus, if Conor were to be able to beat Pacquiao, the boxing world would likely have to sit up and take him seriously as a contender – something which may even put him on course for a title shot.
Source: Manny Pacquiao via Facebook
It should come as no surprise though, that Conor McGregor is an attractive fight for any boxer in the world – especially for those, shall we say, in the “twilight” of their careers. Paulie Malignaggi is another likely candidate after the knockdown/pushdown debate following his sparring with McGregor ahead of the Mayweather fight. But undoubtedly one of the most surprising names to pop up as a potential opponent was 44-year-old Oscar De La Hoya – who hasn’t fought in 10 years. What Malignaggi or De La Hoya could really offer McGregor though, remains a mystery, as neither would set him up as a serious contender.