Former UFC fighter Mark Weir believes Conor McGregor will be eyeing a fourth fight with Dustin Poirier, but will have to earn his way to another opportunity
As Conor McGregor recovers from a horrific and bizarre broken leg suffered in his trilogy match defeat to Dustin Poirier, former UFC fighter Mark Weir says we shouldn’t rule the Irishman out of a successful return to MMA.
McGregor (20-6 MMA) turns 33 on Wednesday and will reflect in his recovery period on a near five-year run that has seen the former two-weight champion win just one of his four UFC contests amid burgeoning business interests and a dalliance with professional boxing. In that time, his earnings have soared to the point he topped Forbes’ recent athlete earning list for the past 12 months.
But, for Weir, McGregor could recover peak form if he centres his mind on the cage and if he is prepared to build up to mixing in the elite class when he’s fit again.
“I do believe Conor McGregor has ability and the ability to knock anyone out. And I don’t think he’s going to lose that yet at that age. A lot of people hit their prime in their early 30s anyway,” Weir told Sky Sports.
“But with the layoff, he didn’t really have a warm-up fight. People reckon the Donald Cerrone fight was a warm-up fight, but that wasn’t a good warm-up fight. He needs someone of a high level, to push him.
“If he comes back, I think he needs a couple of warm-up fights, start getting that form back – if he’s really hungry to prove a point – and then come back for that rematch.”
Before the Poirier showdown in Las Vegas on Saturday night, Weir had called for McGregor to channel the aggressive, sometimes unpleasant, pre-fight persona that accompanied his meteoric rise through the sport.
That demeanour had been replaced by a more gentlemanly, convivial air in the pair’s January contest. But although McGregor doubled down on trash-talking this time around, Weir suspects that bellicose persona may have been overly forced.
“Yeah, because last time he was being so nice to him (Poirier) and that complete change was strange. Even in the changing room, he looked in a bad mood, like he couldn’t wait to get out there. And that’s the way he used to be. But is it a mask? Is he trying to act the way he used to? Or is he truly how he used to be?”
Like Weir, MMA fans will head into the week full of questions when it comes to the sport’s most high-profile combatant.
Ultimately, Weir concludes that a successful return hinges on McGregor’s willingness to accept a slower rebuild before challenging the cream of the lightweight division again. If he does, Weir can envisage a McGregor-Poirier 4.
“If McGregor’s hungry enough to prove a point – and I really do believe he could do it. But the motivation is hard because he’s getting how many millions a year.
“It’s whether he wants to set a standard. He’s going to have to climb the ladder again. He’s gone down a step or two. So he’s going to have to have a couple of warm-ups. He’s not starting from scratch, he’s starting from mediocre.
“He’s about halfway down the ladder. If he’s hungry enough to get back up, great. But this about how his wife talks to him, the people around him, the coaches because that plays a very important part, if they say ‘just leave it alone mate.'”