Having suffered his fifth career defeat in MMA at UFC 257 on Saturday night, Conor McGregor has a lot to reflect on.
'The Notorious' was stopped by Dustin Poirier in the second round of their main event bout; the first time that he has ever lost by TKO as a professional.
When interviewed immediately after the fight, McGregor vowed to fight on, insisting that inactivity had impacted his overall performance. Prior to this weekend, the 32-year-old had spent just 40 seconds in the UFC Octagon since October 2018 - hardly ideal preparation when facing a top contender like Poirier.
Despite his loss, McGregor remains one of the biggest sport stars on the planet and has a wide variety of options when it comes to his next move.
Here is a look at some of those possibilities.
A trilogy fight with Dustin Poirier
Under normal circumstances, this would seem the most logical move for all involved. McGregor and Poirier are now tied at one bout apiece, with each man holding a stoppage over the other. There can be little doubt that McGregor would love to get straight back into the Octagon with Poirier.
However, with Khabib Nurmagomedov continuing to insist that he is retired from competition, it seems inevitable that Poirier will be called to fight for the vacant UFC lightweight title. The other half of that fight will likely be former Bellator champion Michael Chandler, who made a massive statement in his UFC debut by blasting out Dan Hooker in the first-round this past weekend.
McGregor has many paths open to him, but the role of UFC title challenger might well be one that he has to wait a while for. Should Poirier become the next 155-pound champion, a tie-breaker fight with McGregor would be tough to book straightaway.
A trilogy fight with Nate Diaz
Since losing to McGregor in their rematch at UFC 202 more than four years ago, Nate Diaz has fought just twice. In his last fight, which took place in November 2019, Diaz was dominated by Jorge Masvidal. His recent record hardly suggests that the Stockton-native should be in line for a major fight.
It is a measure of the 35-year-old's star power, though, that he is very much in the conversation to be McGregor's next opponent. The pair fought twice in 2016, with Diaz taking the first bout by submission before McGregor exacted revenge later in the year by winning a decision over his rival.
Between them, those fights clocked up an impressive total of nearly three million pay-per-view buys in North America. Given that McGregor's brand has only grown since that time, a deciding fight would surely do even better business.
During his post-fight press conference at UFC 257, McGregor made sure to mention Diaz as a potential future opponent. Diaz responded by mocking McGregor on social media for his loss. A trilogy bout makes a lot of sense right now.
A boxing bout with Manny Pacquiao
McGregor has talked for some time now about his plans to return to boxing and face the Filipino legend Manny Pacquiao. McGregor's defeat to Poirier would seem to derail this slightly, but negotiations for the fight were already at a very advanced stage prior to this weekend.
Both icons of their respective sports, McGregor and Pacquiao meeting each other in the boxing ring would be a magnificent spectacle, regardless of their recent win-loss records. Perhaps more importantly, it would be a big money-spinner for the two participants.
Over the course of his career, we have learned to expect the unexpected from McGregor. A switch back to boxing for a fight of this size can never be ruled out.
An exhibition fight with Jake Paul
A boxing bout for McGregor that seems a whole lot less likely is one with social media star Jake Paul.
Paul has fought twice since obtaining his professional boxing licence, winning by knockout on both occasions. Paul had previously been desperate to goad McGregor into a fight, even offering him $50 million to step into the ring.
However, in the aftermath of McGregor's loss this weekend, Paul cheekily downsized that offer to a mere $10,000!
The fight should not be allowed to happen in any case. McGregor, a vastly more experienced competitor, would maul the YouTuber. Perhaps the most unlikely of any the options presented here.
A shock move to WWE
McGregor has spoken openly in the past of his appreciation for some of WWE's biggest names. Over the years, McGregor has praised the likes of Triple H, The Rock, Ric Flair and Stone Cold Steve Austin. His verbal barbs on the microphone during his career have always had somewhat of a professional wrestling feel to them as well.
Having done business with many combat sports stars in the past, including Tyson Fury, Floyd Mayweather, Brock Lesnar and Mike Tyson, WWE would certainly be open to bringing McGregor in. Obviously, this would not be cheap, though, and also depends greatly on whether McGregor still wants to compete in the UFC.
An appearance by McGregor for WWE in the future would be no surprise, but it would be a stretch to see it happening immediately.
Another retirement... This time for good?
Despite still being in his early 30s, McGregor has previously retired from UFC competition on no less than three occasions. These announcements have typically been made following some sort of disagreement with the company and, of course, have never been stuck to.
Make no mistake, though, McGregor has made some serious money over the years and has no financial need to compete again (in any discipline). With a number of various outside business interests, including his Proper Twelve Whiskey and his McGregor FAST conditioning programme, McGregor has more than enough to keep himself occupied. It would be a shock if it happened, but the Irishman could opt to walk away from combat sports entirely.
The next move of the biggest star in UFC history will be a very interesting one indeed.News Now - Sport News