By his own admission, Conor McGregor needs to get himself back on track. That means both inside and outside of the cage.
One feeds the other for McGregor. When he's busy in the cage, he tends to fight well and get in less trouble outside of the cage. But we've seen over the past three years that when McGregor's in-cage action slows, his outside-of-the-cage issues increase.
McGregor hasn't fought since losing to lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov in October of 2019. Prior to that, he lost his professional boxing debut to Floyd Mayweather Jr. in 2017. His most recent victory was a win over Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205 in November 2016.
During that three-year stretch, McGregor has been in trouble for attacking a UFC transport bus, he's smashed a fan's phone, punched an older man in a pub in Dublin, been accused of sexual assault, and other transgressions.
After spending the entirety of 2019 on the sidelines, McGregor finally has a fight lined up, as he recently inked a deal to face Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone in the UFC 246 main event on Jan. 18 in Las Vegas. Now he has a focus in the cage that will hopefully keep him from misfiring outside of it.
And if McGregor has his way, it could be the first of at least three UFC bouts in 2020.
"(McGregor) has laid out this plan that he wants to fight three times next year. He hasn’t done that in over three years as well, so it’s a pretty lofty goal, but he believes that when he is active, then he’s not getting distracted, he’s not getting in trouble, he’s very focused," ESPN's Ariel Helwani said recently on SportsCenter. "And people are telling me right now that they haven’t seen him this focused in a very long time. We hear this a lot in the fight game, but he’s going to sleep early, he’s waking up early. He wants to prove to everyone that thinks he’s shot that they are wrong.”
McGregor has wanted to rematch Nurmagomedov ever since he lost the fight, but he's going to have to earn his way into that bout, especially as long as Nurmagomedov remains champion. The first step in that direction is Cerrone, but that are other big fights on the horizon for him aside from a title shot that could follow the UFC 246 headliner.
“He wanted to fight in December, but the UFC didn’t give him that opportunity,” Helwani said. “So he wanted to fight at the beginning of the year, then he wants to return towards spring/summer, maybe fight Jorge Masvidal or Nathan Diaz. Then he wants to fight at the end of the year against Khabib Nurmagomedov, if he is still the champion, in Moscow. He got submitted (against Nurmagomedov), he wants to right that wrong so he’s hoping that he can win those two fights, get the title fight, and then shut everyone up.”