Conor McGregor has been a whole bunch of fun.
Love him or hate him, he’s been about as much fun as anyone to ever step foot in the Octagon.
He went from an apprentice collecting welfare to a UFC knockout artist seemingly overnight, and from there what unfolded was one of the greatest rises to the top of sports culture the world has ever seen—in MMA or anywhere.
Sitting here on the proverbial eve of 2018, McGregor is 9-1 in the UFC and has won bouts in three different weight classes. He’s held titles in two of them.
He’s won performance bonuses in nine of his 10 fights.
There is a real case to be made that, when accounting for the blend of skill and excitement that makes a fighter’s performances into appointment viewing, McGregor is the best in the history of MMA.
But you know something else?
If you’re tired of his nonsense, of the games and gamesmanship, the constant stream of nothing headlines and even nothing-er actions that have supported his MMA career in the past year, nobody in their right mind would blame you.
While his diversion into professional boxing was objectively delightful—the pomp and circumstance of it, the abject silliness of it that we suspended our disbelief for, the fact that he actually acquitted himself incredibly well on fight night—everything that has followed has been symbiotically head-scratching and cringe-inducing.
There was his run-in with a referee who was actively shepherding a fight, which culminated in him lunging into the cage and shoving that ref and another commission official.
There was his homophobic slur caught on camera, something for which he appeared genuinely contrite but which wasn’t a good look in any event.
There was his alleged run-in with the Irish mob, the type of thing that usually comes about only for the most irresponsible of human beings, much less of professional athletes.
There was his boneheaded display at a courthouse around the same time.
And, perhaps most importantly in the midst of all this, there was the complete and utter absence of his committing to doing the thing he does best: fight.
While McGregor was off fighting referees, Tony Ferguson was fighting Kevin Lee to become interim UFC lightweight champion. Eddie Alvarez had a big win over Justin Gaethje, and Khabib Nurmagomedov and Edson Barboza will fight at UFC 219 to muck up the 155-pound queue that much more.
If those aren't enough, Max Holloway is ruling McGregor’s old roost at 145 pounds with an increasingly iron fist and swelling popularity, and he took to Twitter to burn the former featherweight king after his last win.
Yet the closest anyone has gotten to pinning McGregor down for his next fight? Why, boxing legend Manny Pacquiao, of course, because who doesn’t want to see an 0-1 pro boxer fight a 39-year-old, current Filipino senator?
And sure, yes, McGregor has since said that he wants his next fight to be in MMA, but what is that worth really? Not much, if reports from multiple sources, including the New York Post, are to be believed. The champ's dipping and dodging regarding the specifics of such a return have done little to quiet concerns.
So just know that now, at this point in time, it’s OK to be out on McGregor and his nonsense. It’s been a fun ride with him to the top of the sport—one of the most fun rides the game will ever see, in fact—but the nonsense has come to overpower those good vibes.
It’s just been going on too long, and there are too many other things in MMA to focus on.
Follow me on Twitter @matthewjryder.