There has been a great deal of speculation in recent months regarding how much power Conor McGregor currently wields within the UFC, the nature of his relationship with the company brass, and his aspirations for the future.
Many have suggested that McGregor’s growth as a box office draw and Pay-per-view attraction has occurred with such break-neck speed that the promotion has lost control of it’s own employee.
The fact that McGregor made very public claims about how he intended to negotiate an unprecedented nine-figure contract for himself, his habitual references to UFC owners the Fertitta brothers as “business partners”, and his hijacking of the dais at the post-UFC 194 press conference all added weight to such a theory.
That McGregor was allowed to move straight up and into a lightweight title fight whilst maintaining possession of the featherweight belt also suggested that “The Notorious” Irishman has accumulated a degree of sway rarely afforded to a fighter.
This in turn led to rumours of a rift between McGregor and the UFC higher-ups.
Adding to a swirling sea of speculative chatter, Bleacher Report journalist Jeremy Botter told The Weigh-In podcast back in January that McGregor’s plans for the future included the promotion of his own fights. It was something that the Dubliner had suggested in the past, but most took those comments with a grain of salt.
Botter, however, claimed that this was very real goal for the SBG fighter, whether he did so in partnership with the UFC or entirely on his own.
“I don’t know if it’s going to be this year or next year but Conor McGregor’s end goal is to promote his own fights. Now whether that is in conjunction with the UFC or ‘McGregor Promotions’, I do not know”.
“The endgame since he walked into the UFC has been to promote his own fights and take the lion’s share of the money”.
A move by McGregor to take greater control of the trajectory of his own career by either co-promoting or promoting all of his own bouts would be a game changer for the sport of MMA.
But could he convince his current employers to grant him such a status? Could he find more willing co-conspirators, if the UFC weren’t interested in a partnership? Or could he survive entirely on his own?
During a recent episode of his podcast, Joe Rogan spoke about the possibility of McGregor promoting his own fights.
While the comedian, UFC analyst and commentator stated that he could see why Conor might choose to do so, he suggested that the logistics of running a solo venture or co-operating with another organisation may prove difficult.
Rogan’s point seemed to be that, as big and as powerful as McGregor has gotten, he needs the UFC more than they need him.
“Conor is a legit superstar, but the UFC made him a superstar. The UFC is the perfect vehicle. They’ve got everything down. The promotion, the management, the way it’s all set up, the way the marketing is on point. It’s on another level. If you go to another organization, good luck running a smooth ship. What happened to Affliction? What happened to Elite XC? What happened to Strikeforce?[each promotion is now defunct]”
You can watch the relevant segment, which also includes talk about the UFC 196 main event, below.