Last Saturday in Stockholm, Sweden, one of Ireland’s most well-known and promising young MMA fighters, featherweight Conor McGregor [13-2-0], took the first step in what may be a very long and successful career in the UFC. A few introductions, some customary stare-downs, a bell, and 67 seconds that included a severe beating later, he showed the world why. Directly profiting from the one-sided beating that he administered to his opponent, Marcus Brimage, McGregor was awarded ”Knockout of The Night” at UFC on Fuel TV9, held on April 6.
Energized by the loyal Irish fans who showed their support for the 24-year-old Dublin native in the form of flags and rugby jerseys, and armed with a lethal, yet lightning quick stand-up game, McGregor made quick work of Brimage in his first UFC appearence.
After turning pro in March of 2008, McGregor fought somewhat sporadically, going [4-2] over the next two and a half years. Things quickly changed for the former boxer in 2011 however, when he won an impressive eight straight fights, seven by knockout as well as one by submission. Word of the streak quickly spread throughout the internet and McGregor subsequently began to rise within the European rankings. Having most recently fought in the Cage Warrior promotions prior to signing a multi-fight deal with the UFC this past February, McGregor is quickly becoming a fan favorite.
While the UFC’s newest knockout artist is just starting to build what will likely become a strong following in the North American world of MMA, fans in Europe are somewhat more familiar with the featherweight. McGregor, who envisions a career that consists of competing in both the featherweight and lightweight divisions, was recently the subject of an MTV UK documentary that chronicled the fighters path towards a professional career in MMA. Just the second Irish fighter in UFC history following Tom Egan [sorry Marcus Davis], McGregor also gained notoriety as the first Irish fighter to hold two world titles in two seperate weight classes while fighting for the Cage Warrior promotions
Although it seems unlikely that McGregor will in fact compete in both the featherweight and lightweight divisions while in the UFC, it’s also unlikely that they’ll ever be a shortage of the Irishmen’s highlight-worthy knockouts. Anxious to make his mark and one day possibly challenge the likes of featherweight champion Jose Aldo and top contender Frankie Edgar for the belt, McGregor lives with a level of self-confidence that is too often lacking in many of today’s athletes. Confidence that allowed the former plumber and amateur boxing champion to volunteer himself as a needed replacement for injured lightweight Joe Proctor at UFC 159 later this month. Not interested in the idea, UFC President Dana White has openly stated that McGregor’s next fight will most likely take place in Boston on the” UFC on Fox Sports One” fight card on August 17
Regardless of when we next have the pleasure of watching the UFC’s newest, most talked about fighter, chances are that it won’t soon be forgotten. As for now, the UFC has yet to announce an opponent for the Irishman to began preparing for. In a division that’s known for its toughness, strong athletes, and experienced fighters such as Clay Guida and the aforementioned Jose Aldo and Frankie Edgar to name just a few, there will be no shortage of quality opponents willing to stand with McGregor. The prospect alone of a Guida-McGregor war would make most fight fans salivate.
With a devastating upper-cut, murderous ground and pound abilities, and a more than respectable ground game developed mainly in Brazilian jiu jitsu, Ireland’s most talented mixed martial artist has put the world on notice. Reminiscent of both Chuck Liddel and Dan Hardy, with a dash of Chris Leben, Conor McGregor has indeed found a home in the UFC. While many in a similar situation may be unable to handle the expectations and pressures that come with a UFC contract, McGregor not only welcomes it, he craves it. From this point forward, the eyes of an entire country will be watching his every move both in and out of the octagon and Conor McGregor wouldn’t have it any other way.