McGregor the fighter just couldn't help himself 4 months ago

McGregor the fighter just couldn't help himself

Covid-19 and the tale of two UFC legends fighting the good fight while trying to fight against themselves.

Conor McGregor and Stipe Miocic are doing their part, and more, during the Covid-19 pandemic.

McGregor [aside from his own brand of public service addresses] has made a number of generous donations to frontline workers and both sought out and bought Personal Protective Equipment for them to use. He continues to make donations to First Responders in the United States too.

Miocic, as a part-time firefighter paramedic and first responder in Ohio, has been helping out on the frontline in a state that (as of today) has had 24,787 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 1,360 related deaths.

Both McGregor and Miocic are true-and-true fighters but were both willing to put aside that significant side of their lives to stay at home as much as possible and following public health advice. McGregor, for one, was not satisfied with Ireland not going into a full lockdown that included shoring up the island and not allowing travel into the country. Back in March, he declared:

"True lockdown must begin, and it must begin now. A lockdown together, a lockdown united."

Not long after that, McGregor was very honest when giving his opinion on the UFC's ill-advised plans to press ahead with a pay-per-view event at a casino resort in Northern California, and their plans to hold events an an undisclosed 'Fight Island'.

'At the beginning of all this,' he tweeted, 'I said to myself - I’m happy I don’t have an official fight booked. If I did, I would have consumed all the incorrect data to support me taking part in the bout, and I would have followed through, competed. And won.'

McGregor was thankful he was not booked in for a fight and most right-minded individuals were thankful when ESPN stepped in to postpone UFC 249 a few weeks. The event still happened on May 9, this time in Florida, but the promotion at least had a few more weeks to put better testing and social distancing measures in place. The fact that three people who travelled to Jacksonville for UFC 249 tested positive for Covid-19 will tell you how hasty it is to be pressing ahead with sporting commitments.

By April 27, a fortnight before Justin Gaethje defeated Tony Ferguson at UFC 249, 'The Notorious' was eager for the 2 kilometres from home restrictions to be relaxed [by May 5, he requested]. 'Only so long our hands can be held before we must go it solo,' he declared.

He wished all of the competitors, and staff present, at UFC 249 the best and sat back to watch what was an enthralling fight card. UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov congratulated Gaethje, via Twitter, that night but McGregor held his counsel. On Monday, though, he could not help himself.

What followed were seven tweets where he lambasted Nurmagomedov, derided Ferguson and Dustin Poirier and threatened to "butcher" Gaethje. 'Your teeth,' he wrote. 'I'm going to put them on a ****ing necklace.'

Believing that Nurmagomedov will not return any time soon, McGregor is predicting a title bout against Gaethje in the summer before he moves up to the welterweight division. Today, we got this:

This is McGregor back in fight mode. A July fight would be at the UFC's Apex facility in Las Vegas, if the promotion got approval from the Nevada State Athletic Commission (by no means a simple task). It would also mean McGregor embarking on a 10-week fight camp in the coming days.

'Only so long our hands can be held before we must go it solo.'

The Covid-19 curve is flattening in Ireland and McGregor wants to get back to work. He will do it without fans in arenas, if needs be, and he will do so even if he has to go into 14 days of quarantine upon arriving in America. There are ifs and buts all over the place but McGregor the fighter is restless. He has seen another man, in Gaethje, jump to the top of the line for a fight with Nurmagomedov and he can't be held in place no longer. Open up those borders again!

What message would McGregor send by jetting off to resume his fighting career in a country with the highest Covid-19 death toll and with questionable social distancing and testing practices across many of its' states? A mixed one, no doubt, but many fight fans would welcome his return to The Octagon.

Is it essential travel to flew out of Ireland to the USA, with a support team, and sign up to a situation where, as UFC president Dana White has admitted, 'nothing is 100% perfect'? Only on July 20 - Phase 4 of Ireland's roadmap to recovery - is travel beyond a 20 kilometre radius to be permitted.

Simply put, McGregor has been stirred by Gaethje's outstanding performance and wants back in the game.

For some perspective on McGregor, look at Miocic and his situation. The 37-year-old won back his UFC heavyweight title in August 2019 when he avenged his 2018 loss to Daniel Cormier. We are all awaiting the completion of that trilogy but Miocic is channelling his efforts to where he feels they are needed. On March 27, he stated:

'I am focused on being a first responder. Not only did I take an oath [as a paramedic], but I genuinely want to help those in immediate need. I hope we will all be fighting soon and back to our version of normal, but for now let’s make an impact in our communities.'

On May 9, Francis Ngannou brutally knocked out Jairzinho Rozenstruik to vault to the top of the line, behind Miocic and Cormier, in the heavyweight division. He is deserving of another title shot and is frustrated that he may have to wait a while.

That is understandable, but Miocic is not coming back until he gets the all-clear from Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and the health experts in his state.

McGregor and Miocic will both go into the UFC's Hall of Fame in years to come. Both have been great champions.

Both have make big impacts to the Covid-19 fight.

However, while Miocic is holding steady, McGregor is wavering. The fighter wants to fight. He does not want anyone holding his hand.