Solid piece by Chuck Mindenhall at The Athletic on Conor McGregor (paywall):
Even if McGregor is 100 percent sincere in his desire to change his ways — actually, especially if — we’re talking about a far different McGregor than the one who was bursting at the seams to make his name in fighting. At best, the man who spent years living up to his nickname, “Notorious,” will now be tasked with trying to live it down. That’s not exactly the same setup as before, when McGregor’s name was an enterprise. The context, at once so admirable and easy to root for, is now complicated. To associate with him isn’t the happy little rebellion it once was, and any vicariousness to the winner’s vibe these days feels something like enabling.
In other words, the spirit of Conor McGregor can’t be retrieved, because at first it was all going somewhere. Now it’s retreating from where it’s been. His downfall has become a burgeoning part of the story, and — sadly — that side has as much momentum as what’s left out there for him to accomplish.
The longer he’s out of the game, the more it seems like he won’t return. And why would he? He’s won UFC championship belts in two weight classes, boxed Floyd Mayweather for tens and millions of dollars, and launched his own whiskey. He figured it out. He won. It his own words that he tweeted five years ago, he got in, he got rich, and he got out.