When UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre went under the knife in December 2011 to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and damaged meniscus the expectation was that he would be on the shelf for anywhere from six to 10 months. It took St-Pierre a little longer than first imagined; he returned to the Octagon in November 2012.
The reason for the discrepancy was that St-Pierre wanted to play it safe. There was no way St-Pierre was going to risk his legacy or his welterweight crown by rushing back on a leg that was less than 100 percent. St-Pierre should serve as an example to Conor McGregor.
But will he? That’s the question that should be of some concern for the UFC.
During his recent unanimous decision win over Max Holloway, McGregor tore his ACL, strained his MCL and tore his meniscus. The 25-year-old Irish fighter will undergo surgery to repair the damage, visiting the same surgeon that repaired St-Pierre’s knee:
Thank you to the @UFC. I am working with the No.1 Surgeon who worked on GSP, Tom Brady and Kobe Bryant. My recovery will be ground-breaking!— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) August 27, 2013
Where St-Pierre took things slowly and listened to his body, McGregor, who hasn’t even had his surgery yet, is setting dates for his recovery:
Going ahead with surgery. Boxing again in 3 months, Kicking in 4, Grappling in 5, Wrestling-6, Sparring-7, Fighting-9. See you in May 2014!!— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) August 27, 2013
Hopefully, for his sake, this is nothing more than McGregor using the power of positive thinking to overcome a lousy situation. If it’s something more than that, McGregor is playing a very dangerous game with his body and his future.
There’s no doubt that the UFC is in love with McGregor. They rolled out all the marketing stops for him when he made his stateside debut in Boston at UFC Fight Night 26. That push has gained McGregor, a fighter who has only two UFC preliminary card appearances to his name, a huge fan following.
McGregor is undoubtedly aware of the short careers that face most professional fighters, and that may result in the young fighter attempting to return to fighting before he is 100 percent healed. That would be a foolhardy move on McGregor’s part.
I understand the desire to give the fans what they want, but the short-term gains that can be realized by rushing a rehab will never outweigh the long-term success that McGregor could realize.
Hopefully the minute the UFC got the news that McGregor was going to move ahead with surgery the promotion contacted St-Pierre and UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz, who is still in the midst of a lengthy ACL surgery recovery of his own, and told them both to get in McGregor’s ear about the recovery process.
From all indications, Conor McGregor has a very bright future with the UFC. It would be a shame to see McGregor risk that future, by setting unrealistic goals and rushing to meet them during his post-surgery recovery.