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Home   /   Rise and Fall of Conor McGregor

By Samuel Owens.

On the 24th January, Conor McGregor was defeated by Dustin Poirier via TKO. This was the first time in his MMA career he was knocked out. This is the lowest point of McGregor’s career after many different controversies and defeats in the last few years.

So where did it go all wrong for the Irishman who at one point was one of the best fighters in the world?

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BEGINNING OF HIS UFC CAREER

Conor McGregor joined the UFC in 2013 after becoming a two-weight Cage Warrior’s champions. McGregor’s first fight in the UFC was against Marcus Brimage who had won four fights in a row.

McGregor completely dominated the fight and was able to stop Brimage in 1:07 minutes inside the first round. During the fight, McGregor showed his ability when standing up by constantly hitting his opponent with counter punches.

McGregor won the Knockout of the Night which meant he received $60,000. This was huge for McGregor as before the fight he was on Social Welfare in Ireland. This fight helped catapult McGregor’s career and showed he was a superstar in the making.

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McGregor’s next fight was against Max Holloway, where he completely dominated the fight and won via unanimous decision. McGregor was in control of the fight and was able to show some skill on the floor as well as standing up.

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MAJOR INJURY HALTS HIS MOMENTUM

In the fight, McGregor tore his Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). The injury meant that the Irishman was out for 10 months which bought his UFC career to a massive halt. This was a major blow for McGregor as he had waited his whole career to join the UFC, and within his first few months in the organisation he suffered a major injury.

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McGregor worked incredibly hard to recover from his injury and get his career back on track and help achieve his goal in becoming a UFC champion.

THE RETURN IN HIS HOME COUNTRY

In July 2014 McGregor made his return to the Octagon where he fought Diego Brandão in his home country, Ireland. The first time McGregor fought in a UFC main event.

McGregor won the fight via TKO in the first round in front of 9,500 Irish fans. In the fight, McGregor showed the power he has in his punches and his ability to survive while on the floor. After almost a year out of The Octagon McGregor fully recovered and was able to knock out his opponent and win the performance of the night award.

In the post-fight interview, McGregor said in front of the Irish crowd “We’re not here just to take part, we’re here to take over.” And take over he did.

FIRST POIRIER FIGHT

Before McGregor’s next fight he signed a multi-fight contract with the UFC which helped secure his future professionally and financially.

Mcgregor’s tweet announcing his new contract with the UFC.

After signing the new contract McGregor’s next fight was at UFC 178 against Dustin Poirier, the first time he fought on a card where there was a world championship fight. Going into the fight it was the first time McGregor used mind games to get inside his opponents head before the fight started.

McGregor was predicting a first-round knock-out before the fight started which people thought was unrealistic. Poirier was McGregor’s toughest opponent at this point and a first-round knockout sounded improbable.

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McGregor baiting Poirier before the fight.

As soon as the fight started McGregor completely dominated the fight as he constantly connected shots with his left hand. The Irishman was able to get his opponent on the back foot and land a devastating left hook which helped end the fight. McGregor ended the fight inside the first round in 1:46 minutes.

Post-fight McGregor gave himself the nickname “Mystic Mac” for predicting the first-round knockout. He was able to win the Performance of the Night award for the second fight in a row.

AIMING FOR ALDO

McGregor was now targeting the UFC Featherweight Champion José Aldo for a title shot. First McGregor had to fight Dennis Siver at the start of 2015. Winning the fight would mean that the Irishman would get a title fight and achieve his goal in becoming a UFC champion.

This was McGregor’s second main event fight. Mcgregor knew this was the biggest fight in his career to this point because victory meant he will get his world championship opportunity.

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McGregor completely dominated the fight and completely outclassed Siver, winning via TKO in the second round. As soon and the referee stopped the fight McGregor jumped the cage and got in Aldo’s face, showing no fear to the man who was unbeaten for eight years at this point in time.

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McGregor and Aldo went on a 12-day tour to promote the fight that would be happening at UFC 189, where McGregor went all-in on the mind games. The most famous moment was him stealing Aldo’s UFC belt in Ireland.

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With less than three weeks before UFC 189, Aldo pulled out of the fight with a fractured rib. This delayed McGregor’s opportunity to become the UFC Featherweight champion. Instead of fighting Aldo, McGregor fought high-level wrestler Chad Mendes.

Going into the fight critics said McGregor was protected from facing high-level wrestlers like Mendes. The winner between McGregor and Mendes would be crowned the intern Featherweight champion.

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During the fight, Mendes was able to take down McGregor multiple times. However, during the fight Mcgregor was able to land many body shots to slow down Mendes.

Towards the end of the second round McGregor was able to defend a takedown and keep the fight standing up. When this happened McGregor knew this was his opportunity to win the fight and put pressure on his opponent. McGregor was able to land a devastating left hand on Mendes and won the fight via TKO with three seconds left in the round.

Post-fight McGregor showed a different side to his personality which was emotional and thankful. He also showed a lot of respect to Mendes and thanked his team and the Irish fans who turned up to watch him fight. Winning the fight meant that Mcgregor was one step closer to his ultimate goal in becoming UFC champion.

Now with McGregor as the interim UFC featherweight champion, he would need to fight Aldo to become the undisputed UFC featherweight champion. McGregor knew this was his opportunity to achieve his goal in becoming UFC champion. Aldo had been UFC champion for 1,848 days going into UFC 194.

As soon as the fight started McGregor ran straight to the middle of the Octagon and put pressure on Aldo. The champion reacted to this by trying to hit McGregor with a right-left combination which was countered by McGregor with the perfect left hand which knocked out Aldo. McGregor was able to knock out Aldo in 13 seconds, the quickest victory in a championship fight in UFC history.

Now McGregor is the Undisputed UFC Featherweight champion, just 15 months after he said he is ready to take over the UFC.

TWO FIGHTS AGAINST NATE DIAZ

McGregor was meant to fight Rafael dos Anjos for the UFC Lightweight Championship and aiming to become the first person to hold two titles simultaneously.

However, 11 days before the fight was meant to happen Anjos pulled out with a broken foot and McGregor’s new opponent was Nate Diaz at welterweight. Before the fight, McGregor had never fought at welterweight and Diaz was a completely different opponent to dos Anjos. This was the first time McGregor fought someone over six foot tall who was very competent standing up and on the floor.

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In the first round, McGregor was able to land a lot of shots, however Diaz didn’t look rattled unlike McGregor’s previous opponents. As the first round was coming to an end Diaz was able to land a few shot on McGregor.

As the second round started Diaz became more aggressive and starting to land a lot of shots on McGregor and the Irishman looked tired and tried total down Diaz which was defended by the American. Soon after Diaz was able to get McGregor in a guillotine chokehold. With McGregor in a tight chokehold he tapped out and he lost his first fight in his UFC career.

Post-fight McGregor was gracious in defeat, accepting that he lost to the better man. He also demanded a rematch at the same weight.

At UFC 202 McGregor got his rematch against Diaz. Even though it was a non-title fight it was the biggest fight of McGregor’s career so far as his reputation was on the line. Before the first Diaz fight, McGregor was seen as this unstoppable force. This means losing again to Diaz would have had a major impact of McGregor’s reputation.

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In the first two rounds, McGregor was the dominant fighter dropping his opponent three times. However, Diaz was able to survive this and in the third round he was able to put the pressure on McGregor and it looked like it was going to be a repeat of the first fight.

Unlike the first fight, McGregor was able to survive the round and regroup. McGregor was able to bounce back in the fourth round showing fight and courage. McGregor was able to survive the last round and won the fight via a majority decision. The fight was the biggest UFC event up to that point.

DOUBLE CHAMPION

Now McGregor is aiming for the UFC Lightweight title again. Now the champion is Eddie Alvarez after he beat Rafael dos Anjos. The fight was made for UFC 205 and for the first time in UFC history an event is taking place in Madison Square Garden, New York. If McGregor was to win the fight he would become the first-ever person two hold two UFC belts at different weight classes.

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When the fight started McGregor took control straight away as he was able to drop Alvarez multiple times in the first round. McGregor was completely dominant and Alvarez looked shocked at the Irishman’s power. As the second round started a finish looked inevitable, and when McGregor was able to land a perfect four-punch combo he was able to win the fight and become the UFC Lightweight champion.

Now McGregor is the first-ever person to hold two UFC title belts at different weight divisions at the same time. Now McGregor is the biggest star in UFC history and one of the biggest stars in combat sports. His next fight changed his life and career forever.

THE MONEY FIGHT

On the 14th June 2017 it was announced that McGregor was making his professional boxing debut against Floyd “Money” Mayweather.

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Going into the fight Mayweather was 49-0 with a career spanning over 20 years. McGregor was going into the fight as a huge underdog but everything he had done up to this point in his career seemed impossible. There seemed a chance going into the fight that the impossible could be done and McGregor could win.

McGregor fought well in the fight however he couldn’t get the job done and lost via TKO in the 10th round. The Irishman got off to a good start winning the first few rounds but as the fight went on Mayweather was able to take control of the fight and finish McGregor. George Foreman, Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson praised McGregor for his performance in the fight. McGregor reportedly received $100 million dollars for the fight.

LOSING BOTH UFC BELTS

In late 2016 McGregor was stripped of the UFC Featherweight champions due to inactivity. When McGregor fought Aldo this was the last time the Irishman fought at featherweight. In April 2018 McGregor was stripped of the UFC Lightweight championship again for inactivity.

CONTROVERSIES POST MAYWEATHEATHER FIGHT

BELLATOR 187

McGregor’s teammate Charlie Ward made his debut for Bellator 187 when he fought against John Redmond. Ward was able to win via knockout but McGregor jumped the cage before the result was confirmed. As the referee was ensuring the result McGregor went at the referee and pushed him. McGregor also knocked down Redmond as he was getting back to his feet after getting knocked out in the fight.

ATTACKING THE BUS

McGregor’s Lightweight title was relinquished at UFC 223. The main event was between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Al Iaquinta for McGregor’s relinquished title. A few days before the event Khabib got into an altercation with McGregor’s teammate Artem Lobov.

McGregor was not happy with this and went to the Barclays Centre, where UFC 223 was taking place, with 20 other associates and got into the parking lot of the area. When he got there he picked up a metal dolly and threw it at the bus containing Khabib, smashing a window and injuring two UFC fighters, none Khabib.

After the incident, McGregor was arrested by the NYPD where he was later on released on bail. McGregor had to complete 5 days of community service and take anger management classes due to the incident.

THE KHABIB FIGHT

In August 2018 it was announced that McGregor would be fighting Khabib for the Lightweight title after the Dagestani fighter won the championship at UFC 223. This was McGregor’s toughest opponent in MMA as going into the fight Khabib was 26-0 and had never lost a round in his entire career. In the build-up to the fight it was very intense as both fighters exchanged insults. Khabib was an out and out wrestler which most people say is McGregor’s weakness and the champion going into the fight was the favourite to win.

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McGregor was completely outclassed in the fight, losing in the fourth round via submission. McGregor was never able to land any significant strikes in the fight and even got knocked down by Khabib with an overhand right in the second round. McGregor was meant to be the favourite when standing up but getting knocked down by Khabib was a real indicator that McGregor was not going to win the fight.

Post-fight McGregor was attacked by two of Khabib’s teammates after his opponent attacked McGregor’s teammate Dillon Danis.

This was another controversy with McGregor as the biggest event in UFC history was stained with controversy and another down point in McGregor’s career.

FURTHER CONTROVERSIES

McGregor was arrested twice for being violent in public. The first arrest was in Florida with McGregor taking a fan’s phone and smashing it to the ground.

The other incident was in a pub in Dublin where he punched a man in the face and was charged with assault and fined €1,000. With all the controversies since the Mayweather fight, McGregor was completely ruining his legacy.

COMEBACK FIGHT

McGregor made his UFC return in January 2020 at UFC 246 where he fought Donald Cerrone. This was the first time McGregor fought at welterweight since his rematch against Nate Diaz. Going into the fight Cerrone had lost two fights on the bounce.

McGregor completely outclassed Cerrone by knocking him out in the first round becoming the first UFC fighter to get knockout victories in three different weight divisions. After the fight, McGregor stated he wanted to fight for UFC titles again.

POIRIER REMATCH

COVID 19 disrupted 2020 McGregor’s plans and he wasn’t able to get in the Octagon until January 2021 where he had a rematch against Poirier. McGregor’s behaviour going into the fight was completely different to his behaviour the first time he fought Poirier. McGregor was very relaxed and respectful with no trash talking before the fight.

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As the fight started McGregor was able to land multiple strikes on Poirier but his opponent was able to land many leg kicks. As the second round started Poirier started to put more pressure on McGregor and was able to land multiple shots. McGregor started to get backed up to the cage as Poirier was unloading on McGregor and eventually the Irishman went down and the fight was stopped. For the first time in McGregor’s career, he was knocked out in MMA.

This is McGregor’s third UFC lost in 13 fights and he has only had three fights since he beat Eddie Alvarez for the Lightweight title (12th November 2016).

Since McGregor fought Mayweather in the “money fight”, his MMA career has been a car crash that has been surrounded by controversy.

Does McGregor have the hunger for fighting anymore? Does he care enough about MMA since his greatest payday was in boxing? Will we see the prime McGregor again, the man who fought Aldo and Alvarez?

These questions will be answered in time, but right now McGregor is seen as someone who could have been the greatest of all time but instead once he got some success he didn’t seem to care as much. Can you blame the man who went from receiving benefits to fighting for millions of dollars?

If he fights again in the UFC it will get a lot of attention, but will he win again and can he reach the top? If not he may be one of the greatest disappointments in combat history.

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