The UFC’s biggest star is soon to be in action in a professional boxing ring for the first time in his life and while dedication and hard work brought him to the dance, the money fight is another example of timing working out in Conor McGregor’s favor. This trait has been quite common in his UFC career thus far.
McGregor’s ascension began as a featherweight/lightweight prospect with a country behind him and a formidable left hand. If you look beyond his debut against Marcus Brimage in 2013 you’d find McGregor was scheduled to fight Andy Ogle four months later. What happened next could be considered fate. Ogle Pulled out citing an injury and McGregor instead faced the UFC featherweight division’s current champion Max Holloway, who was just 21-years-old at the time. In the span of three rounds, McGregor’s superiority was clear that night despite learning that he torn his ACL early in the bout. McGregor had the benefit of facing the impressive Holloway early in his career rather than facing him today, which could possibly lead to a different result. While there is interest in seeing a rematch between both men, neither champion appears intent on moving out of their current weight class to make it happen.
The injury to McGregor initially seemed like bad luck, but the year long layoff didn’t halt his rise, in fact it only grew when he returned to The O2 in his native Dublin, Ireland against Diego Brandao as the headlining act. Securing a fight date overseas does not happen overnight, let alone Dublin, Ireland, but what better way to bring the UFC back to Dublin then to do it on McGregor’s return from injury? Sure, they could’ve eventually scheduled the event despite the injury, but the return made it that more special.
Another example of McGregor’s impressive timing is the fact that he was able to fight Chad Mendes on two weeks notice at UFC 189 when Jose Aldo pulled out due to a rib injury. While McGregor was able to finish Mendes under two rounds, there’s a chance the fight could’ve gone differently had Mendes had more time to prepare. The first round proved that Mendes could hang with the current UFC lightweight champ and while no rematch between both men was entertained, a fight against the division’s toughest wrestler outside of Frankie Edgar on short notice benefitted McGregor in terms of gaining an advantage.
Jose Aldo is still considered by many as the greatest featherweight of all time, but he now finds himself on the outside looking in after losing his title at UFC 212 to Holloway. During the build up to McGregor-Aldo, it was clear that while Aldo was only 28-years-old at the time, he was very much a seasoned veteran. The accumulation of injuries that forced him to pull out of several fights in his WEC and UFC career combined with the tough five round battles against the likes of Frankie Edgar, Chad Mendes, Mark Hominick, etc. didn’t help his cause against father time. While Aldo didn’t take much damage against most of his opposition, the Mendes fight at UFC 179 certainly took a lot out of him.
That’s not to take any credit away from McGregor’s 13 second KO win over Aldo at UFC 194, but even McGregor claimed that Aldo was an old lion who was not the same version of his old self and as a result he’d defeat the long time champion no problem. The win will forever be remembered as the first time Aldo was knocked out cold and the moment McGregor officially gained supremacy over the featherweight division.
McGregor’s next venture was at 155 lbs and with his sights set on the UFC lightweight title he was expected to face Rafael dos Anjos at UFC 196 and while dos Anjos was forced to pull out due injury leading to Nate Diaz replacing him followed by a loss to Diaz, things eventually worked themselves out. McGregor faced his first UFC loss to Diaz head on and agreed to a rematch against Diaz at UFC 202 while Eddie Alvarez earned an upset TKO win over dos Anjos in the meantime. The win over Diaz allowed McGregor to return to his initial goal and fortunately for him he was now facing someone who didn’t present the same wrestling and jiu jitsu ability that dos Anjos possesses. Alvarez while tough possesses a suspect chin that only benefitted McGregor’s chances in their bout.
The fight between both men played out like a mismatch only furthering the legend of McGregor. This would be the last time we witnessed “Notorious” in the octagon as he opted to turn his attention towards the 49-0 boxing legend, Floyd “Money” Mayweather and if there is a good time to fight Mayweather it’s when he is 40-years-old and coming off a two year layoff.
McGregor’s stock has never been any higher due to his ability to secure both the UFC featherweight and lightweight title in impressive fashion. The payday will be his biggest yet and he could possibly become an even bigger draw in the process.