Conor McGregor's meteoric rise through the UFC ranks from 2013 to 2015 seemed to have him on track to be considered an all-time great. Multiple retirements, a 3-3 run and trouble outside the Octagon have somewhat tainted McGregor's standing for many. All that will be irrelevant if McGregor can pick up wins in his next two fights, according to UFC president Dana White.
McGregor meets Dustin Poirier on Saturday when the two battle in a trilogy fight in the main event of UFC 264. After knocking out Poirier in less than two minutes in 2014, McGregor found himself on the wrong side of a knockout loss in their January rematch. Winning the rubber match and then going on to win the lightweight title from champion Charles Oliveira is the path to immortality for McGregor, according to White in an interview with ESPN.
"He'll go down as one of the greatest of all time," White said. "To have lost the belt and gone through the things that happened to him personally, professionally -- to come back and beat the No. 1 contender, who just beat him, and then fight for the title and win? Financially, it's off the charts. Professionally, it's off the charts."
McGregor won the featherweight championship in December 2015, knocking out all-time great Jose Aldo in just 13 seconds. In 2016, he knocked out Eddie Alvarez to win the lightweight title, becoming the first man in UFC history to simultaneously hold titles in two weight classes.
Despite that accomplishment, many have criticized McGregor in the years since for never defending either championship, instead briefly retiring several times and losing a boxing mega-fight to Floyd Mayweather in 2017.
Between his UFC career, endorsements, the Mayweather fight and the recent sale of his whiskey brand, McGregor has become one of the wealthiest men on the planet, seemingly becoming even more financially successful as the mystique of his early dominance in the Octagon has faded with three losses in his six most recent UFC bouts. That, too, plays into the fight, according to White.
"There's so much at stake in this fight, and I love that," White said. "Because the big question about Conor right now is the guy has so much money, 'Is he the same Conor? Is he focused?' We know this kid loves to fight. He doesn't need to fight right now. He's fighting because he loves it and has an opportunity. If he can beat Dustin Poirier, the No. 1 guy in the world, he can get a title shot."