Let’s be honest here, The UFC has had its fair share of controversial fighters such as Chuck Liddell, Tito Ortiz, Chael Sonnen, most recently Jon Jones. All of which are great fighters, joys to watch in the octagon and deserve all the respect in the world for what they’ve accomplished. However when a bright young prospect by the name of “The Notorious” Conor McGregor burst on the seam in for Cage Warriors and Cage Rage, both independent companies based in the United Kingdom and Ireland, the UFC had come calling to see what the big buzz was all about in Dublin.
Sure enough, as soon as McGregor won both the Featherweight and Lightweight Belts for Cage Warriors, the UFC signed the Irish born prospect to multi fight contract. Little did the company know, they signed the biggest star in Mixed Martial Arts today. We fast forward through time, and McGregor is a human wrecking ball winning nine of his ten fights at the top level (seven out of his nine victories via knockout), on top of that, he won the Undisputed UFC Featherweight Championship against one of, if not the best featherweight in the world, Jose Aldo. His only loss in the UFC came at UFC 196 against Nate Diaz by submission. He avenged that loss in a rematch at UFC 202 via unanimous decision. He then went onto fight Eddie Alvarez for the UFC Lightweight title at Madison Square Garden in New York City. A second round TKO put McGregor in the history books as the company’s first ever two-weight world champion.
Needless to say “The Notorious one” has built himself one hell of a resume’ in just a few years of success. All that aside, most people know him for his reputation being the best trash talker on the planet. I really do believe some of the shenanigans Conor does at press conferences, interviews, weigh ins, etc. gets inside the head of his opponent. Of course no fighter will ever admit that and actually believe it but in my opinion it plays a big factor in Conor’s game plan before a fight.
As soon as the fans saw their first glimpse of McGregor on the microphone, they latch and lock on to every single one of his words. Why you may ask? Well for one, he has no filter and he is absolutely hilarious when he gets fired up which the casual fans will absolutely buy into. For example, at a press conference between Rafael Dos Anjos and McGregor, Dos Anjos was asked many questions by the media and Conor being the loudmouth character he is, answered most of his questions, insulted and ridiculed him. He even spoke about the man’s kids! Dos Anjos looked very bothered by this and by his facial expressions, it showed.
As McGregor’s popularity began to rise to new heights, also came some harsh critics, most of them being the “smart” MMA fan’s. Let’s face it most of McGregor’s fans range from casual UFC fans, Irish nationality and the younger adult crowd. While most of his haters are “UFC hardcores” who nitpick every move he makes. Some of those haters I actually agree with on some points, like how Conor’s Brazilian Jujitsu isn’t the strongest, or how he gases out too fast early in fights. However in his rematch against Diaz, Conor like he always does proves people wrong. His Jujitsu defense was stout and had enough in the tank to last a five round fight, which he never done before. Keep in mind that fight was at Welterweight which is not Conor’s usual weight cut.
When UFC commissioner Dana White signed Conor, he hyped him up as one of the fastest rising stars the company has ever seen. Great praise don’t get me wrong, but I don’t think he ever expected this one hundred fifty five pounder to be the cash cow of this company. His events have generated the most pay per view buys in UFC history and its not even close. His main event bout with Nate Diaz at UFC 202 still currently holds as the record for a pay per view buy-rate. There are reports out there however that his latest fight with Alvarez at UFC 205 is the new record holder but nothing official yet. Either way, McGregor has made truck loads of cash for the UFC and White has to be happy with that. As much as White thinks Conor can be a bit of a pain in the ass when negotiating deals for fights and showing up late to press conferences, he knows that this man shows up and puts on a show whether the fans love him or hate him and that’s what’s best for business for the UFC.
The sky is the limit for Conor, the only person that can bring the young Irishman down is himself. So whether his next opponent is Khabib Nurmagomedov, Tony Ferguson, Tyron Woodley, Nate Diaz, Jose Aldo or Floyd Mayweather, it doesn’t matter to him because he truly believes there’s not a man in this world that’s going to stop him.