Conor McGregor Becomes Highest Paid Athlete Despite Questionable Publicity

By: Frank Cannistra

Arguably no athlete has captured the media’s attention throughout the past decade, quite like UFC superstar Conor McGregor. In the past, headlines about McGregor touted his incredible knockouts and never-before-seen levels of trash talk, but as his fighting success has dwindled over time, “The Notorious” has had to find new ways to keep the spotlight pointed in his direction, and while they may be working, they’re far from graceful.

McGregor last fought in July, losing to Dustin Poirier for the second time this year. McGregor’s awkward stretch began mere seconds after the knockout loss. McGregor was sprawled out on the ground and, in a post-fight interview with Joe Rogan, randomly started yelling things like, “His wife was in my DMs,” as well as information inviting people to his nightclub after-party, and other nonsense, seemingly in an attempt to anger Poirier. It didn’t work exactly as he’d hoped, as Poirier just shrugged off McGregor’s accusations, recognizing that it was likely just McGregor being a sore loser.

Since that less-than-ideal night, McGregor has been finding weirder ways to force his name into the media, even though he’s still on medical suspension and cannot promote his next fight. The most notable of his new incidents occurred at the VMAs. McGregor was walking the red carpet with his wife, Dee Devlin when he randomly got into an altercation with Machine Gun Kelly.
Different sources provide different accounts of what sparked the incident, but the most common story is that McGregor asked Kelly for a picture; the rapper declined and then shoved McGregor, causing him to spill his drink and ignite the altercation that transpired.

McGregor followed up by throwing out the first pitch at a Chicago Cubs game on Tuesday, Sept. 21. McGregor’s pitch was impossibly bad, chucking the ball far right and into the stands. Most news outlets labeled it the worst first pitch in the history of celebrity first pitches, but in doing so, it also became one of the most viewed first pitches in history.

McGregor’s latest weird moment came Saturday, Sept. 25, on social media. UFC 266 on Saturday was the main event by a UFC Featherweight Championship fight between champion Alexander Volkanovski and challenger Brian Ortega. The fight, won by Volkanovski, was an all-time classic, which garnered incredibly high praise from the MMA community. McGregor chimed in as well, tweeting, “Not a bad fight. Congrats, shartsy”.

Once deemed the greatest trash-talked in sports history, McGregor has been reduced to calling someone “shartsy” on Twitter. Beyond that, he’s trash-talking people in a division that he clearly cannot fight in anymore, as he’s exclusively fought in higher weight classes since 2015.

So why is McGregor tweeting negative messages at fighters that he literally cannot fight? How is it possible that an athlete threw a baseball as poorly as he did, and, for that matter, why is he throwing out a pitch at a Cubs game in the first place? Why are two grown men with a combined net worth of almost 500 million dollars getting into a fight over taking pictures with one another?

McGregor is currently the highest-paid athlete globally this year, already netting at least $180 million before the end of September alone. For reference, that’s more than Tom Brady and Kevin Durant’s earnings combined, and almost a hundred million more than the earnings of LeBron James. Unfortunately, however, McGregor has been knocked out in the two fights he participated in this year by Poirier, who has a net worth of slightly below 5 million dollars.

McGregor’s latest transgressions haven’t been the most noteworthy or anywhere near the most incredible moments in his illustrious career, but it’s hard to criticize someone who seemingly has this game more figured out than anyone in recent memory. Unfortunately, his fighting prime seems to be entirely behind him, but he will continue to ensure that everyone is eager to watch him step back into the octagon if he ever does.

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