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If Conor McGregor loses at UFC 264 would UFC dare put him on a cheaper deal?

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Could a 1-3 run put Conor McGregor back on a win/show deal?

Breathe in through the nose. Breathe out from the mouth. Close your eyes. Focus. Breathe in through the nose. Breathe out from the mouth. Good. Are you relaxed? Okay. Here is the news. Conor McGregor — win or lose — will be okay after UFC 264.

I’m not saying that’s fair, or that’s right. I am saying that it is true.

If McGregor defeats Poirier — even if the fight ends via a controversial split decision — the former two-division UFC champion is almost guaranteed to fight current lightweight titleholder Charles Oliveira. It wouldn’t be be a surprise if that fight gets announced before the end of the UFC 264 broadcast — if McGregor gets his hand raised.

If Poirier defeats McGregor and the former champ’s record falls to 1-3 since 2018, the UFC will reward McGregor with another lucrative fight. The slam dunk there would be the Nate Diaz trilogy. That matchup would probably be even more profitable for the UFC than a scrap for the belt opposite Oliveira.

If McGregor wins, he’ll almost certainly lock up a contract with a big guarantee. There will be no win and show money split for McGregor. His pay — rightfully so — will be guaranteed.

With a loss that same standard will most likely hold, but should it? From a business standpoint, the UFC would be better off giving McGregor the standard contract which awards a fighter one amount if they lose a fight and (usually) double that if the fighter wins. The logic behind this, we’re lead to believe, is the setup motivates fighters to try harder. It’s supposed to be a motivating factor.

It appears, looking at disclosed fight pay, McGregor has been getting guaranteed pay since he received a disclosed $500,000 for his July 2015 win over Chad Mendes. Before that, McGregor earned, in disclosed pay, $170,000 ($85,000/$85,000) for beating Dennis Siver in January 2015. All three of McGregor’s losses have come during the time his contracts were guaranteed. If he losses to Poirier at UFC 264, that’ll be four losses under a guaranteed deal.

With that, would it make business sense to offer McGregor the “win and show” deal for his next UFC bout if he loses to Poirier? The answer is an unequivocal yes because if McGregor picks up a loss in that fight the UFC won’t have to pay him as much. If he wins, the UFC can claim McGregor fought with more ferocity because he was competing to double his money and that was what motivated him to get the win.

My belief is all fighters should receive a guaranteed rate for all their UFC fights and that rate should be the combined “win and show” money. I don’t think a professional fighter who is locked in a cage with another professional fighter needs to be motivated to compete at the best of their ability. If the thought of getting knocked out or having a limb shattered or snapped isn’t motivation enough than I don’t think money will help that situation.

The thing about the UFC is that I wouldn’t put it past it to adjust McGregor’s deal. The promotion could easily cast doubt on his drawing power and tell him it is concerned over how many fans will tune in to see him compete after his 1-3 run over more than three years.

I don’t want to see any fighter paid less because all the UFC fighters are underpaid, yes, even McGregor. But the UFC uses a what have you done for me lately business model and 1-3 is not doing a lot for the UFC — even if all those fights brought in enormous amounts of money for the UFC.