Michael Bisping thinks the Conor McGregor of old ‘doesn’t exist anymore’ and that the Irishman will never return to the Octagon as his former self.
The McGregor of today is a much tamer beast compared to the McGregor of 2015/2016, when ‘The Notorious’ was running rampant through the featherweight division and on a mission to become the first simultaneous two-division champion in UFC history.
McGregor not only went on to win two world titles but become one of the richest athletes in the world, and Bisping thinks Conor’s newfound fortune has turned him into a ‘pussy cat’.
“The Conor McGregor of old is just like the me of old. It doesn’t exist anymore,” Bisping told talkSPORT.com in a recent interview. “I’m a nice guy, I’m a pussy cat, but I used to be a bit of a nightmare. With Conor McGregor, it’s the same thing. The man’s loaded. He’s pulling up on $100 million yachts and got million dollar watches. He gets chauffeured in Rolls Royces.
“[Former boxing champion] Evander Holyfield said ‘it’s hard to get out and run at 6am when you’re sleeping in silk sheets’. Fighters, we’re hungry and want to turn it around. Maybe we’re cut from the same type of cloth or the wrong side of town. We like to fight and that’s our only hope. The dream is to make some money and turn your life around, he’s done that in a big way and he’s never going to go skint.”
Bisping does, however, believe McGregor still has what it takes to compete at the top and is curious to see whether the former two-division champ can avenge his loss to Dustin Poirier at UFC 264, with the winner expected to challenge Charles Oliveira for the lightweight title.
“That’s not an insult, that’s just the reality of the situation. It doesn’t mean he can’t go out there and have a great performance and win, because he can. It’s going to be a tough fight though,” Bisping said.
“Whoever wins that fight should certainly go on to fight for the belt. They are the most high profile in that division and are ranked high enough – Dustin was an interim champion and Conor is a former champion.
“The fight, whoever wins that will fight for the belt, as long as they don’t get injured. Who knows how it will go. In the first fight, Conor knocked him out pretty quickly in the first round. In the second fight, Dustin knocked him out in the second round. The reality is, though, it’s going to be a great fight. Any time one person has beaten the other one, it makes the third one special.
“I think the psychological battle goes to Poirier, though, as he just knocked him out. I respect Conor McGregor for stepping in there like that. I’ve been knocked out in this sport before, the next time you fight there’s some psychological demons there. Conor is stepping in straight away against the person who knocked him out cold. I admire his courage there. It will be interesting to see how the fight turns out.”
UFC 264: Poirier vs. McGregor 3 will take place on July 10 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.