In the lead up, it appeared as though the historically volatile McGregor was a new man. No trash talk, no drama-infused press conferences — just mutual respect between two fighters about to knock lumps out of each other.
But since January, when McGregor was ultimately defeated by Poirier, things have soured. The issue? A promised charity donation of $500,000 that, according to Poirier, has yet to be delivered by McGregor and his team.
Let’s try and explain this whole deal from the start.
In the wake of a dominant win againstin early 2020, Conor McGregor was itching to continue fighting throughout the remainder of the year. Unfortunately COVID-19 put a big dent in those plans.
The UFC continued putting on fight cards throughout 2020 and was one of the first sports in the US to come “back,” but it appeared as though the UFC was reluctant to put together another McGregor fight — most likely because fans couldn’t attend fights yet and the UFC makes a significant amount of money on live gates to see one of the sport’s biggest stars.
For comparison, the UFC might usually take in $1 million to $2 million in ticket sales for a regular event, while a McGregor fight with full attendance will bring in over $7 million from ticket sales alone.
So McGregor was left on the shelf.
Out of frustration McGregor took matters into his own hands, attempting to put together an exhibition bout with Poirier.
McGregor had faced Poirier before. In 2014, McGregor defeated Poirier via a devastating first round KO. But to remain active, McGregor offered to face off against Poirier in a second fight — albeit an exhibition — and donate $500,000 to The Good Fight Foundation, a nonprofit charity set up by Poirier to help those in need. Poirier agreed to the bout.
That got the UFC’s attention.
In the wake of those tweets the UFC set up a legitimate rematch between McGregor and Poirier under the UFC banner, but McGregor committed to the $500,000 donation he had promised regardless.
Given the outcome of their first fight, McGregor was heavily favored to beat Poirier in their rematch. In the leadup, the pair were extremely cordial — a stark contrast to the first fight, when McGregor was largely credited with beating Poirier mentally with an assault of cutting trash talk in the lead up to the contest.
But the second fight played out much differently. After compromising McGregor with punishing, debilitating calf kicks, Poirier knocked out McGregor, putting the pair at 1-1.
In interviews after the second fight, Poirier confirmed that McGregor’s people had reached out about the donation and thanked him face-to-face for the money McGregor intended to donate to The Good Fight Foundation.
The third fight
A third fight between McGregor and Poirier was scheduled for July 10, with McGregor declaring there would be “no more Mr. Nice Guy” — in reference to the relaxed atmosphere between the two in the leadup to their second fight.
The cordial relationship between the pair quickly deteriorated. After a series of tweets back and forth, Poirier posted an explosive tweet accusing McGregor of not actually following through on the $500,000 donation he’d promised in the lead up to their second fight.
“That’s a fun prediction,” Poirier tweeted. “[Y]ou also predicted a donation to my foundation and you and your team stopped responding after the fight in January.”
That got McGregor’s attention. He claimed that communication stopped because he was waiting on specifics on plans for the money.
“We’ve been awaiting the plans for the money that never came,” he tweeted. “I do that with all my donations.”
After more back and forth, McGregor got more riled up, appearing to cancel the upcoming third fight, claiming he would “fight someone else” on July 10th.
Most likely the fight will go ahead and McGregor has made reference to making Poirier “pay” for “smearing” his name.
Plenty of others got involved, including McGregor’s manager Audie Attar.
McGregor has given heavily to charities in the past, donating 1 million euros to hospitals in Ireland during the COVID-19 pandemic and invested a “significant amount” to help keep his childhood soccer club alive.
Attar claimed the donation was still going ahead.
Is the fight still on?
After the twitter battle over the donation, McGregor initially started hinting he might look for another opponent for his July 10th fight.
But after the dust had settled, it was confirmed by all parties that the fight was back on.
ESPN’s MMA reporter Ariel Helwani confirmed the news with McGregor himself.
In an interesting twist, Poirier tweeted out an official apology for bringing up the charity issue in the first place.
“I jumped the gun and took my private matters between Conor and my foundation public,” he wrote in a statement. “My mistake, we live, we learn. Spreading positivity and doing good is my goal.”