Paul Daley: The UFC Not Banning Conor McGregor For Life Is A ‘smart Move’

The king is back, the king is back. Long live the UFC’s pay-per-view king. 

Did you hear the explosion that erupted on social media on Friday afternoon when UFC president Dana White closed the promotion’s 25th anniversary fall news conference in Los Angeles by throwing to a video promo on the big screen behind him? It was the sound of hope being sprung, money being printed and the temporary health of a sport being diagnosed a clean bill. 

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Former two-division champion Conor McGregor will return from a nearly two-year layoff to challenge newly-heated rival Khabib Nurmagomedov for the lightweight championship at UFC 229 in Las Vegas on Oct. 6. 

Just how valuable is the brash Irish star’s return after a 21-month sabbatical from the Octagon to his employers? Consider the fact that McGregor’s absence, which began following a historical knockout of Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205 in 2016, sparked a period of sagging PPV numbers, declining television ratings and an empty cupboard of crossover stars. 

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When McGregor walked away from UFC at the peak of his record PPV-drawing prime, his subsequent turn to pro boxing — and the reported $100 million windfall he earned from losing to Floyd Mayweather — provided him the most leverage any fighter in promotional history had ever known. And while his return stands to raise the profile and financial health of the UFC in the same “rising tides lifts all boats” effect that Tiger Woods has on the sport of golf, it revealed one darker truth. 

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