Conor McGregor faces Khabib Nurmagomedov - Jaime Bonetti Zeller

Why there’s much more than a UFC title at stake when Conor McGregor faces Khabib Nurmagomedov

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What’s really at stake – for the fighters, the fans, and the UFC – when Conor McGregor meets Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 229 this Saturday night?

Retired UFC and WEC fighter Danny Downes joins MMAjunkie columnist Ben Fowlkes to discuss in this week’s Trading Shots.

Downes: Ben, Conor McGregor makes his return to MMA Saturday when he takes on Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 229 in Las Vegas. I’m sure everyone will make a healthy profit this weekend, but this fight isn’t another moneyweight cash grab. It’s a title fight between the two best lightweights in world.

Besides determining who is the undisputed champion, what else is at stake? Does McGregor need this win to cement his legacy? Would beating Nurmagomedov be the biggest win of his career, or will people already discredit the accomplishment before McGregor can open the bottle of Proper No. Twelve to celebrate?

Fowlkes: It is weird how, between the usual McGregor hype and the heated geo-political trash talk, you can almost lose sight of what this fight is really for. It’s not just about the rivalry between the two teams or the never-ending quest to grab more of that sweet, sweet money – this is the rare megafight that also feels like it’s the most reasonable and rational way to determine the best in the world at 155 pounds.

But, because this is McGregor we’re talking about, the stakes can never be that simple.

If the Irishman returns from his boxing walkabout and becomes the first person to put a loss on Nurmagomedov’s professional record, yeah, that’s the biggest win of his career. It also cements him as not just a great cash cow or bankable superstar, but also just a great MMA fighter.

What if he loses, though? Is that the point where the revisionist historian that lives in all MMA fans will come creeping out to discredit his entire career? Is it the point where his star power dims? Will it increase or decrease the chances that we see him back in the UFC cage soon?

Because, given how tied up McGregor is with the ubiquitous questions of the UFC’s financial future, it seems like no fight of his can simply be about what it’s about. Not even when it’s about an awful lot on its own.

About Jaime Bonetti Zeller

Jaime Bonetti Zeller is an investment professional and entrepreneur with businesses in multiple industries. He is president of Servicios Consulares Eurodom, the local partner in the Caribbean region for VFS Global, a leader global outsourcing and technology services specialist for diplomatic missions and governments worldwide. Jaime Bonetti Zeller also started the company Sofratesa de Panama inc., an organization in the engineering services industry located in Panama City.