Conor McGregor first satisfied Dustin Poirier in the Ultimate Fighting Championship octagon in 2014. Like so several other McGregor opponents, Poirier, then regarded the exceptional fighter, was vanquished rapidly, with a remaining hook to the head and a series of punches on the floor that prompted the referee to end the struggle in considerably less than two minutes.

They will satisfy yet again in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, early Sunday at U.F.C. 257, with Poirier when yet again forward in the official rankings though a apparent underdog amongst oddsmakers. But whilst Poirier’s profession has slowly and gradually floor ahead over the past 6-additionally years, McGregor arrived to own the sport and its enormous viewers. He achieved superstardom, received multiple U.F.C. championships and fought Floyd Mayweather in a single of the most valuable boxing matches at any time.

But the past handful of many years of McGregor’s daily life have been dominated by authorized troubles, in both Europe and the United States. He pleaded guilty to assault for punching a man at a bar in Ireland, his residence place, though advertising and marketing his new brand of whiskey. He was set on probation in New York for hurling a dolly at a bus the 7 days of a bout, breaking a window and injuring a fighter. He was investigated by legislation enforcement in a quantity of other accusations of violent actions.

A single case, which did not result in charges immediately after the police in Ireland investigated for a lot more than a 12 months, will inevitably loom about McGregor, 32, and the U.F.C. in Abu Dhabi, and in other places in the foreseeable future.

In early January 2019, a girl in Dublin, Eire, explained to the police she had been raped by McGregor a month before. A assertion of declare in a lawsuit the woman submitted against McGregor this week explained her point of view of the encounter in graphic detail. An evaluation at a medical center soon immediately after the come upon, the assertion said, identified bruising more than her complete system.

U.F.C. officers have declined to comment about the case. In a news convention on Thursday, McGregor known as the lawsuit submitted on Monday “old information.”

“It was investigated thoroughly over the study course of two prolonged a long time, and I was cleared of any wrongdoing, and that’s it,” McGregor stated. “There’s so a great deal positivity in my lifetime, I have a great obstacle forward of me Saturday night time.”

Although prosecutors declined to provide criminal charges, they did not crystal clear him of wrongdoing and the lawsuit will be read by a jury if it goes to trial.

With McGregor in legal limbo, the U.F.C. will also be in a holding pattern — hopeful but uncertain about regardless of whether it can count on common performances from the most significant star in its heritage.

As the circumstance was investigated by the law enforcement in 2019 and 2020, McGregor mainly disappeared from the public eye, at minimum by the standards of how voluminously he previously grabbed the highlight. He introduced a retirement from battling in March 2019, only to rapidly change his brain and e-book a combat in opposition to Donald Cerrone, who is nicknamed Cowboy, a single calendar year ago.

The run-up to that bout was the initial time McGregor dealt with the scenario, which the law enforcement were being still investigating.

When he was questioned about it at a pre-combat information conference, hundreds of lovers in attendance booed, and the U.F.C. closed ranks about its star. Cerrone, his opponent, interrupted to say that only questions about the struggle ended up authorized, and the U.F.C.’s president, Dana White, reported McGregor experienced now answered the issue in an job interview with ESPN, the U.F.C.’s corporate media companion.

McGregor conquer Cerrone decisively, then did not battle once more in 2020, as the U.F.C.’s lightweight division typically moved on with no him. The ability-punching Justin Gaethje emerged as a challenger, only to shed decisively to the reigning winner, Khabib Nurmagomedov, who promptly retired. Poirier, who experienced misplaced to Nurmagomedov in 2019, defeated Dan Hooker in June to catapult himself back again up the lightweight rankings. Charles Oliveira set jointly a successful streak to turn into a contender.

The U.F.C. quickly lacked a clear hierarchy in a marquee excess weight course,

McGregor’s 2018 combat in opposition to Nurmagomedov was perhaps the most significant bout in U.F.C. historical past, created up by antics that veered significantly outside the house the scope of level of competition.

Trash discuss from McGregor ahead of the struggle escalated in unusually personal ways — he applied a racist slur in a tweet though talking about Nurmagomedov’s spouse. Nurmagomedov responded afterwards — by leaping out of the cage just after his victory and attacking McGregor’s coaching husband or wife.

White and McGregor, of class, preferred a rematch, and U.F.C. assisted chart a path for McGregor to combat 3 moments in 2020 as a buildup. But McGregor fought just once, in portion since of the coronavirus pandemic, and other fighters seemingly surpassed him in skill.

When Nurmagomedov retired in October, after his father’s demise pursuing problems from Covid-19, matchmaking discussions in the course of the sport had to be reframed.

Final weekend, right before the U.F.C.’s initially-ever card televised on ABC, White reported he experienced spoken to Nurmagomedov and “had a feeling” that if possibly McGregor or Poirier — or the fighters in the other lightweight bout on Saturday’s card, Dan Hooker and the U.F.C. newcomer Michael Chandler — displayed outstanding skill, Nurmagomedov would conclude his retirement to struggle them.

But this week, Nurmagomedov mentioned he didn’t have designs to fight in the potential. And so the U.F.C.’s hopes — for Saturday’s card, for future pay out-for each-view fights, for the light-weight division — rest more closely upon McGregor.

If Poirier wins, he will be in line for a shot at a title fight, and McGregor would sink farther down the lightweight division’s rankings, with two losses in just three U.F.C. appearances in the previous four many years.

But if McGregor wins, he will likely get that title shot, and the U.F.C. will get an additional beneficial pay-per-watch match — regardless of where by queries about McGregor’s private perform stand.