UFC Unfiltered: Have we seen Conor McGregor’s last stand? Plus: Could Diaz be next for Poirier?

Jul 10, 2021; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Conor McGregor reacts following an injury suffered against Dustin Poirier during UFC 264 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The week was dominated by Conor McGregor, and rightly so, but there are some great tidbits of news that you may have missed if you weren’t paying attention or you just are mired in the dog-days of summer. Here’s our rundown of what’s been going on in the world of mixed martial arts in this week’s UFC Unfiltered.

Is Conor McGregor finished?

The question had lingered before Conor McGregor ever stepped back into the Octagon this past weekend. Still, now that the smoke has cleared and “Notorious” has dropped to 1-3 in his last four fights, it’s a valid question that even the most die-hard McGregor has to consider.

In MMA, every fighter outside of Jon Jones has been on the losing end of a fight. He’s hit the first true crossroads of his career and this last defeat feels more deflating than any previous loss. One punch can change everything.

But this medical stoppage/TKO, once again at the hands of Dustin Poirier, feels like an ending for Conor McGregor. The flashy, cocksure McGregor of old, who ascended to the top of MMA like no one before him, seems to be gone and replaced by a man who still talks a good game but is finding it hard to keep the focus needed to stay at the top of an ever-evolving sport even if he entered into the cage with known stress fractures that led to his first-round collapse.

Though, the word “finished” may have a different meaning for McGregor in MMA as well. He may very well be finished in elite-level fights, but his ego will not allow him to retire on a skid like this.

I suspect that Conor McGregor (22-6) will fight in mixed martial arts again, but I doubt it will ever feel the same.

Dustin Poirier to auction off “Sleepy McGregor” chain

Speaking of Dustin Poirier, the clear-cut number one contender in the lightweight division, has said that he’ll accept a $100,000 chain that YouTuber boxer Jake Paul had specially created to memorialize Poirier’s first knockout of Conor McGregor in January.

The chain features a knocked out McGregor holding a bottle of NyQuil, the cold and flu medicine designed to help put people to sleep. Poirier has stated his intent on auctioning the chain off for charity.

Paul noted that he and McGregor’s team discussed a potential $50 million boxing match but now has allegedly rescinded that off, instead only now willing to go as high as $23 since McGregor has now been knocked out in consecutive fights.

Could Diaz vs. Poirier be in the works?

Despite now being the clear-cut number one lightweight and a guaranteed title shot from UFC President Dana White, Dustin Poirier may be entertaining a fight with Nate Diaz. Now that Poirier has topped Conor McGregor – again – could this be the next super fight for him?

The catch? Apparently Diaz wants the fight at middleweight.

The two were set to clash at lightweight at UFC 230, but Poirier (26-8) was forced to withdraw due to injury. Neither fighter has ever fought at middleweight, so it’s a curious move by Diaz (20-13).

With so many options now available for Poirier, is he willing to once again turn his attention from his first undisputed UFC Championship for another potential big-money fight? Hopefully, we’ll find out soon.

Luke Rockhold is ready to move, or move on

In other news unrelated to fighters named Conor McGregor, former Strikeforce and UFC Middleweight Champion Luke Rockhold had not stepped foot inside an MMA cage since July 2019 when he suffered a TKO loss to Jan Blachowicz in his light heavyweight debut. He would later proclaim that he was done getting punched in the face.

Now Rockhold (16-5) is singing a different tune but is frustrated with his lack of UFC options for a return fight. Most of the top guys are booked up or just coming off fights, and Rockhold doesn’t want just any ol’ tomato can.

In an interview with Mike Heck of MMA Fighting, Rockhold said: “Give me the f*ckin’ dance partner to prove that, or not. Whatever. I don’t care. I’m going to go there and I’m going to do what I do. Let me prove myself right, and let people try to prove me f*ckin’ wrong. But someone’s gotta step up and f*ckin’ do it.”

He mentions the exciting but currently skidding Kevin Holland. Holland is currently scheduled to face Kyle Daukaus in October at UFC Fight Night 195.

Coming Up: UFC Fight Night: Makhachev vs. Moises

UFC unfiltered vegas sports today
Photo: Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via USA TODAY Sports

This Saturday, the UFC Apex in Las Vegas plays host to a solid UFC Fight Night card headlined by Islam Makhachev and Thiago Moises in a lightweight clash. No, it doesn’t have that Conor McGregor flash, but this is a great matchup at the Apex.

Makhachev (19-1) is on a seven-fight win streak and will be stepping back into the Octagon for the first time since he defeated Drew Dober in March. In his way is Moises (15-4), who is on a three-fight winning streak himself.

The night also serves as the return of one Miesha Tate (more below) and fan-favorite fighters Jeremy Stephens and Billy Quarantillo. It’s another solid free TV card for MMA lovers everywhere that promises some action to shake up a Saturday night that will most likely be punctuated by you striking out with the hotties at your local bar.

At least you can impress them with your knowledge of UFC fighters.

Finally… Cupcake returns

The night also features the return of former UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion Miesha Tate, who will face Marion Reneau in the co-main event. Tate (18-7) will be returning to the Octagon for the first time since a unanimous decision loss to Raquel Pennington at UFC 205 in November 2016.

How much does “Cupcake” have left in the tank after her self-imposed UFC exile where she tried her hand at being a fighter manager, an executive for ONE Championship, and has become a mother to two beautiful children. I know the crowd is going to be fired up for the return of one of the most popular fighters the UFC has ever produced.

Mixed martial arts is often a cruel mistress to those former champions who get the itch and try their hand for one more shot at glory inside the cage. There’s never denying a fighters heart and Tate has always had that in spades.

Reneau (9-7-1) isn’t necessarily a terrifyingly tough opponent to welcome Tate back with, but she’s not a push over either. The “Belizean Bruiser” is known more for her striking than her ground game, which may feature right into Tate’s ground-heavy offense, but after nearly five years away… away from the daily grind… the constant drilling… will Cupcake be ready to absorb the same punishment she was legendary for absorbing in order to have things work to her advantage?

I’m excited as hell to find out.