As Conor McGregor’s  Octagon return neared last weekend, any serious MMA fan understood that it was a big deal. But, prior to UFC 246, there was talk and debate regarding whether McGregor still has the same drawing power that he did, in say, 2016 and 2017.
Well, following the “Notorious” star’s quick win over Donald Cerrone, McGregor’s manager has outlined why he believes the former champ’s still as a big a star.
McGregor’s manager says fighter’s star power is “just as strong”
When 2017 came to a close, there was no question that McGregor was one of the biggest names in all of sports period. Although he was stopped by Floyd Mayweather Jr. in their boxing match that year, McGregor was a massive underdog to win that bout, and it was still one of the biggest fights in combat sports history.
But, due to McGregor’s loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov in 2018, and in particular, because of Conor’s highly publicized incidents,  many questioned whether his star power has diminished. In fact, prior to UFC 246, questions swirled as to whether his fame has dropped in his native Ireland.
Well, following McGregor’s quick victory last weekend, his manager Audie Attar spoke with MMA Fighting . While discussing McGregor’s drawing power, Attar said this:
“I think the thing about Conor, he’s a polarizing figure,” Attar said. “There’s people that love him and there’s people that don’t like him. At the end of the day, I think you always have the latter trying to discredit him in anyway. The numbers don’t lie. The energy doesn’t lie.
“So when you’re either there witnessing the droves of fans packing in and selling out a weigh-in or the energy come fight night or the reports you’re now reading about the success of the event and the pay-per-view, that shows you Conor McGregor’s star power.””
In addition, while discussing the fact McGregor continues to draw interest from boxing stars like Manny Pacquiao and Mayweather Jr. Attar said this:
“That’s just a testament to Conor’s star power,” Attar said. “Whether it’s MMA and the fans in the UFC trying to decide who’s next, now it’s the boxing world putting their best foot forward because everybody wants a red panty night. That’s the reality of it.
“Conor McGregor is the biggest thing in combat sports. Period.”
Thoughts on Attar’s take?
It’s hard to say definitively right now whether McGregor is still the same draw that he was a couple of years ago. But metrics tied to UFC 246 certainly indicate that the former champ remains a massive presence. For example, the aforementioned report from MMA Fighting notes that UFC 246 may have sold around 2 million pay-per-view buys.
Where Attar is unquestionably correct is that McGregor is a polarizing figure, and that’s why he continues to garner so much interest. Millions of people want to see him win and millions of people want to see him lose. That results in big, big business.