Conor McGregor, more than anyone else in MMA history, thinks ahead.
Despite becoming the UFC Featherweight Champion in record breaking time last year, McGregor always knew he'd end up competing at 155 pounds. He may have even known that he'd never compete at 145 pounds. McGregor's supreme skill outside the cage is selling fights -- even ones that aren't scheduled.
Donald Cerrone, Jeremy Stephens, Urijah Faber, Rafael dos Anjos, Tyron Woodley, Frankie Edgar. None have fought Conor McGregor, only one has been set to face him. All have been targeted by him in an effort to stay ahead of the game.
McGregor is no fool. A second consecutive loss would have been a gut shot to his career. Losing to a popular, yet middle-of-the road lightweight/welterweight isn't a good look. The thing about the Irishman, he's always got a backup plan if things go off the rails.
If he loses to Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205, he can defend his UFC Featherweight Championship. If he wins it, he opens himself up to a world of choices. If he doesn't want anything to do with either title, he's now entrenched in a twitter beef with current UFC Welterweight Champion Tyron Woodley. Not his ideal matchup, for sure, but an option nonetheless.
A fight with Tyron Woodley wasn't one that had entered a lot of people's wavelengths -- until this week. Conor McGregor made sure it was a possibility.
Jeremy Stephens made a name for himself by Conor McGregor not knowing his name. If somehow Stephens gets past the legendary Frankie Edgar at UFC 205 and continues his hot streak, a McGregor-Stephens bout (especially coming off of a McGregor loss) has promo material readily available. Donald Cerrone? That's a fight anyone would pay to see, and McGregor knows it. The only two that seem out of the equation are Urijah Faber (soon to retire) and Rafael dos Anjos (dropped two fights in a row).
There was also the prospect of McGregor fighting Georges St-Pierre earlier this year. With the UFC seemingly figuring out their PPV formula, you can't take that off the table either.
Conor McGregor gets it. He understands the peaks and valleys of MMA, because he's experienced both in the last year alone. While others wait for opportunities, he takes and creates his own, and then calls his own. He controls his destiny to an extent. With a win or a loss, Conor McGregor is cared about (see Chael Sonnen), and has fights that the public will still pay to see.