UFC 206 recently lost it’s light heavyweight title main event this week.
The UFC light Heavyweight Champion Daniel Cormier was forced to withdraw from his bout with title contender Anthony “Rumble” Johnson following an undisclosed injury two days ago. At the time it was unclear whether the UFC would replace Cormier or if the bout would be scrapped. Today, news broke from Ariel Helwani of MMA Fighting that the higher ups at the UFC have found a new match up to take its place.
The new main event for UFC 206 will be a featherweight fight between two top contenders, Max Holloway and the former lightweight champion Anthony Pettis. In addition, the two men will be fighting for an Interim Featherweight Title.
Conor McGregor, who had held the belt in this division and who is now also the lightweight champion will most likely be stripped of the featherweight belt. In turn, that will promote Jose Aldo’s belt from Interim, which he won at UFC 200 with the win over Frankie Edgar, to the undisputed champion. With Pettis and Holloway fighting for the Interim title, the winner would then fight Aldo to solidify the championship.
Anthony Pettis (19-5) has had only one fight in the featherweight division since dropping from 155lbs, that was a win over Charles Oliveria at UFC on Fox 21 in August. Prior to the drop in weight, he lost three in a row to some of the top talents in the lightweight division, including losing the lightweight title back in March 2015.
Holloway (16-3) is coming into this match-up having won nine in a row. His most recent win came over Ricardo Lamas at UFC 199 where he won via unanimous decision. This will be the first title shot for the native Hawaiian since coming to the UFC in 2012.
This event takes place at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Canada on December 10, 2016.
Long Read: King and Conqueror: What makes a better Champion?
King & Conqueror
As it Stands:
In less than 20 years the UFC has become the definitive entity that has risen above the rest to become a household name in MMA. Going from the sport from a sideshow activity to, a leading brand in Sports Entertainment at the highest level.
In a promotion company’s case, they are only as good as their talent so although the cultural elevation of UFC over the years is greatly due to brothers Franklin & Lorenzo Fertitta & friend/business partner Dana White, this “Holy Trinity” in the business of MMA could not have sold the UFC for 3.33 Billion to the talent agency WME-IMG in July 2016 if not for the Infamy of High-Level MMA & Talent displayed by the Hardened, Seasoned, Electrifying Athletes and in the words of MMA Fans, the “Trained Killers” the UFC has on its roster.
Though recently in the UFC, considering its progression and recent decisions and or lack of, I see myself asking a question…
* Are the champions, the Top Contenders & Staple Names, these “Trained Killers” best for the business & the sport when –
- A. They keep humble & fair. They are fighting, fighter after fighter by the numbers. Breaking records, garnering unbroken win streaks, an array of finishes etc, like DJ?
- B. When they are Enigmatic, Polarizing, bypass general rank and file and secure “Big Money Fights” & win or lose they put on a performance, like Conor?
Let’s try answering that. So, it stands to reason B preceded A and got people watching (The Lidell, Rampage era).
It also stands to reason that once people were watching, to sustain and go to the next level, it was A’s turn to preceded B, legitimizing the High-Level credibility (The Silva & GSP Era).
It then stands to reason once more that once legitimized, B needed to lead the charge again to take not just MMA but particularly The UFC into a whole new level of Spectacle, “casual” Viewership & brand recognition at an Increasingly World Wide level, making it irresistible for potential buyers (The Ronda & McGregor era)
Using two fighters as Archetypes for A & B I will elaborate on the strengths & weaknesses of each and finally explain why Both are necessary
– Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson posing with 3 of his 12 UFC Belts gained over Multiple Title Defenses –
Fighter A – Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson (27-2 -1)
- Iron Sharpens Iron
- Another level entirely regarding challenges. The Champ has a Giant Target on his back. Maintaining his place on top by constantly fighting the Biggest threats to his throne. Being able to Stay at the top, might be the Hardest thing to do.
- Fighting so many various opponents for rounds upon rounds upon rounds, compounds experience gained. DJ’s fights are always Title Fights so always potentially 5 rounds, at the highest level, against the biggest threats to his throne. He has 12 Flyweight Title Fights on his record. The sheer magnitude of Experience gained from that amount of Octagon time at that high a level is almost beyond comprehension.
- It is easier to extrapolate information in order to assess a fighter’s ability from consistent data. Fight metrics really start to add up especially when combined with experience over time. This makes breaking records not just easier but clear, obvious & definitive eg
– Has made 11 successful title defenses, beating Anderson Silva for most in UFC history
– His Pro MMA Record has 11 Submissions, 11 Decisions & 5 KO/TKO’s
– Total Fight Time is 5h 9m & 12s the longest average is 20 minutes (According to Fight-Metrix).
- This is necessary for the story DJ has written so far, for the credibility of UFC’s claim to have the highest caliber talent & the legitimacy of the sport itself.
- It doesn’t matter what people feel about Demetrious as a person or a “sports star”. His ability, accolades, constantly challenging himself at the highest level & succeeding. Nobody can deny his achievements. It’s rare in MMA to have hazy “was that in or out”, type scenarios that cause confusion and affect the result. It’s far more easy to spot when one human beats up and outclasses another. Not to mention Knocking Out the Knockout Artists in Joseph Benavidez and Submitting the BJJ Specialists in Wilson Reis. As a result, on paper alone based off simple facts, his ability, skill & tenure is Undeniable.
- Polite = Boring.
- When Kings/Queens is too polite, respectful & fair, it may lead to viewers claiming the fighter is “boring”.
- Wolf Tickets.
- When a King/Queen are believed to be so far above their competitors, the matchup can be easily perceived a foregone conclusion, fans can lose faith in the Promotion aspect. I have seen them express that they can feel somewhat hoodwinked in regards to this scenario. This lead can to an indifference about the next challenge to the title.
- No Polls-No attraction, it’s physics.
- Fighters like DJ are a lot of things, Polarising is not one of them. Rarely would you find him express his personality or tell his story in a manner that attracts the casual fan to watch? He doesn’t start arguments/debates so, therefore, no feuds and thus struggles to generate hype outside the hardcore fans. It becomes a “punching the clock” scenario. DJ himself has been found legitimately saying phrases very close to “I’m just going to work” on multiple occasions. This talk can make it difficult for fans to take a deeper interest.
- Can’t spell “Successful Sport” without “Cold Business”
- Taking the above cons into account means the King/Queen can be Extremely difficult to promote. The less promotion, the less interest generated. Less interest means less profit overall. Less profit can mean the promotion machine itself may begin to put less money and time in promoting the next fight if the fighter in question hasn’t yielded the return desired. It is a business at the end of the day.
“A leader is best when people barely know he exists.” Lou Tzu
Conor gaining “Double Champ” status after beating Eddie Alvarez for the Lightweight Belt
Fighter B – “The Notorious” Conor McGregor (21-3-0)
- Conquerors don’t need to wait in line, be polite or run through the rank and file. They knock on the door of the loudest, toughest man/woman, defender, guardian and or King/Queen and Demand they come out and fight, in a manner so that all the town’s people can see. This can attract casual to hardcore fan all the way to the average townsperson who happened to get wind of the talk around the town, so to speak…
- Conor has Honed his skill set to end fights quick, sudden and with an exclamation point. If a fight goes on longer, his style again leans to the more entertaining side of the sport. Either way, his fights are memorable and make a lot of noise within the MMA community.
- Conquerors focus on the weakness of their opponents, believe in themselves and have so much drive to the point of obsession that the intensity they can bring to an encounter can have serious effects on the mindset & psychology of the opponent. In some cases, the battle is won before the bell is even rung. Eg. McGregor stealing Aldo’s Championship Belt @ The Convention Center in Dublin, Ireland for the UFC 189 World Tour Press Conference.
- People band together for a conqueror. If they see a person with so much Conviction & drive, creating displays of power & dominance, who shouts to the world that they are coming, with no fear, confident that they will destroy anyone who is in their sights and no one can stop them, people will follow, a country worth of people. Pretty much Ireland as a whole voice walk behind Conor, chanting war cries of the opponents inevitable demise and in the terms of Prize Fighting, that equates to Tickets Sold.
- All the above add to a major factor that separates Conor from Demetrious, Conor can guarantee the UFC a number of PPV’s and Ticket Buys. He garners so much attention, whether he is loved or hated and thusly generates a Lot of money for the UFC. So much so it is arguable that the likes of McGregor and in the past Ronda Rousey helped elevate the name of the UFC to the level where it’s net worth is in the range of 3-4 Billion. This gives him a lot of leeway and weight to move around, the like of which other fighters Don’t have.
- The Khan Empire & Alexander had a philosophy that settling, no longer moving from challenge to challenge, battling from city to city Conquering ruler after ruler taking what they owned, making it yours and absorbing their people into your own army makes you weak, out of practice, complacent and therefore Vulnerable. Conor doesn’t stay in one place. He Conquered Cage Warriors as a Double Champ and moved right on and out into the UFC like it was just another battle. After he sacked the city of the Featherweight division he went on to the next challenge, the Lightweight Title at 155lbs.
- Infamy is its own currency
- Before Conor fought Alvarez he fought Nate Diaz at 170lbs (as a replacement fight when Champ at the time RDA had to pull out of his fight due to injury) for no belt and lost via rear naked choke submission in the 2nd Rnd but his Infamy, conviction & Notoriety gained him a rematch with Nate, again at 170lbs (A weight Neither fighter is Rostered under) and Won by Unanimous Decision.
- This method has got Conor his own records and accolades. After he fought Nate for the second time, on Nov/12/2016 Conor McGregor went on to fight and beat Eddie Alvarez for the Lightweight Championship Belt, becoming the first “Double Champ” in UFC History, holding two belts in two weight classes simultaneously. This was his 1st & to this day, Only fight at Lightweight (155lbs).
- Pays to be a Star
- In Short, I’ll use the tagline “For The Love Of The Money” by The O’Jays to illustrate my point on this matter.., “Money, Money, Money, Moh-naay… MOHHHH-NAAAAAY!!”
- Not everyone will agree to your dominance. If you pick the fights, jump from place to place whenever you feel like it. Many claim that Conor is Yet to fight an opponent who is first class at grappling, can take a shot and is happy to lay on Conor and make it a boring fight.
- Jumping from division to division and not defending his belts, never looking back, only forward, has left the division’s top contenders in a mess. As a result of all of this, the ranks say one thing, the fighters say another, fans are usually split and Conor can Never go down as the definitive best in any division he fought in as he has Never secured the Tenure in the divisions in the manner that a fighter like Demetrious has.
- Conquerors are unique and they don’t come around often. People get inspired and driven in themselves by the methods and paths marked by a Conor McGregor type person. This goes bad as they try to replicate the path and method to little or no success and cause even bigger upsets in the division. Eg Tony Ferguson & Khabib Nurmagomedov left waiting for Conor to return. After missing weight again, Tony won’t fight Khabib and wanted the Money Fight with Conor. Khabib also shared that goal. Meanwhile, luckily a fighter named Kevin Lee made his way up securing a fight with Ferguson for the Interim Title at 155lbs which Ferguson Won via Triangle Choke in Rnd3 making him the interim Champion (Interim meaning next in line for the belt). Though many think (fans, fighters, journalists, even Conor’s striking coach Owen Roddy alike) the more likely person Conor fights next is Nate Diaz for the Trilogy fight but this time at 155lbs and possibly for the belt. Effectively making the Interim Belt for Ferguson won pointless.
- Conquerors make a lot of enemies, people will always hate someone who Conquered them more often than them and won’t ever, Universally, agree on his overall place in the sport and ability. He may have wrecked shop but he left stones unturned, challenges to be completed and failed to solidify himself in any one place for a long enough in the divisions he has fought in.
- What Conor has achieved up to this point in his career can be seen as 40% fight skill 50% business & marketing and 10% mental warfare. Taking that into account his G.O.A.T. status will always be up for debate and will lean between those who see MMA more as entertainment and those who see MMA more as a pure sport.
“The Conqueror is regarded in Awe. The wise command respect but the benevolent wins our Affection” William Dean Howells
So, what is better, King or Conqueror?
In the terms of the modern Sports Business machine, In my opinion, I would argue Neither is bad and BOTH are not just good but Exceptionally Necessary.
- A Fighter like DJ lets the hardcore and more uber fans know the company is still about the sport, they still care and want to put on by the numbers fights following rank and file. Those fans get to watch the career rule of a prestigious King as he retains his title with the humility & class expected from a Tenured Champ.
- They define what perfection in the sport is, they always will hold a bar at a place that while some fighters may stare at the spectacle of the lights and dream of money. For most fighters however even the knowledge there is bar they did not reach it yet, it is a constant nagging that must be addressed.
- Competition breeds obsession, obsession breeds hard work & dedication, hard work & dedication desires challenge, challenges completed desire recognition. For those, the chance, even the opportunity for the chance, to dethrone a King like DJ is far too much to ignore.
- A Fighter like Conor raises the stock price of a company like the UFC, pure and simple. He has reached a level where he has elevated himself from the sport to the point that he got his contract pushed away to the side while he went off to boxing and fought Floyd “Money Mayweather”.
- Not long ago MMA was something a person watched when no one was around, worried that someone might find the tapes of the “Bloodsport” of “Human Cockfighting” and think you odd or crazy. Now, Conor is side by side with the president of the UFC representing MMA, sharing the stage with Boxing, The most prestigious, Honored, Respected and Longest tenured fighting sport in the world.
Conquerors bring the sport to the mainstream. Conor made such a ruckus, leaving such an impression, grabbing Pandora’s Box of MMA & raining it down all over the modern world for all to see, experience and take note of.
Kings keep the sport pure and as legitimate as the sport is capable of being. DJ provide the range of dedicated fans, arguably the only people who pay for subscription service to fight libraries, watch live events at 5 am because they live in a different country (That’s me), watch the fight press conferences and fight week interviews, their time & monies worth. Both King & Conqueror collectively give all manner of fans the peace of mind that the Bastion of MMA, the UFC is still “As Real as It Gets”.
Wrapping Things Up…
Every Yin needs a Yang but as the sport is still evolving maybe will see one day, a fusion between Demetrious & Conor, some would argue Jon Jones could have been that guy “could” being the loaded word.
I leave you now with some final questions for you readers.
- Does a fighter like that exist in the rankings, in their early stages, still gestating, waiting for their time?
- Are they already here and known but we are sleeping on them?
- Has one existed before and I am missing them?
- Do you think Jon Jones could still maybe, be that Guy?
- Which do you prefer, Kings/Queens or Conquerors?
[Watch] First trailer for Conor McGregor: Notorious released
Many have wondered when we would get to see Conor McGregor have his own documentary film in cinemas. After months of waiting and teasing at it through social media we finally have the initial trailer. The trailer shows some fantastic little clips from throughout his career. From a first glance this is without a doubt one to be looking forward to, enjoy. Conor McGregor: Notorious will hit theatres November.
What must Conor McGregor do to be considered the undisputed G.O.A.T?
In November 2016, Conor McGregor cemented his legacy as an all time great by becoming the first simultaneous two weight world champion holding both the Featherweight and Lightweight belts. In that year McGregor also won three fights at three different weight classes.
“The Notorious One” has the fourth highest win percentage in the UFC at 90%, and he owns the fastest finish in a UFC title fight. This may upset a few MMA purists as McGregor only has 10 UFC fights to his name, but he is certainly in the G.O.A.T discussion now more than ever after his recent bout with Floyd Mayweather Jr.
There are three possible ways to define the greatest of all time.
- Whether or not the individual is a pioneer of the sport and earns plaudits for their innovation and creativity, e.g. Royce Gracie is a perfect example.
- Whether the fighter has done a lot to help develop and grow the sport e.g. Chuck Liddell isn’t always top of everyone’s list but he’s always in the conversation due to the way he brought the UFC to mainstream audiences.
- Judging a fighter on their skill set and MMA record, e.g. Jon Jones who has a perfect MMA record with some high calibre opponents on his list of victims.
Conor McGregor fits in to each category on this list and deserves to be in the G.O.A.T discussion, but he’s not quite the undisputed number one just yet. Here are some of the things McGregor needs to do to become the undisputed greatest of all time.
Defend His Belt
What do Demetrious Johnson, GSP, Anderson Silva and Jon Jones all have in common? They all have multiple title defences and they’re all in the G.O.A.T discussion because of it. Jon Jones has the least out of those named competitors with 8 consecutive title defences. Conor McGregor currently has 0 title defences despite being a UFC champion since December 2015.
In defence of McGregor every time it’s looked like he would be defending his belt a much bigger opportunity has arisen. When the time came to defend his Cage Warriors belts he was off to the UFC.
After winning his featherweight title at UFC 194, he was scheduled to make history by facing Rafael Dos Anjos for the lightweight belt at UFC 196, before facing Diaz. After losing on March 5th, McGregor then re-matched Diaz in the biggest fight in UFC history with the event playing host to the UFC buy rate record with roughly 1.6 million buys.
Then it was time to make history at UFC 205 where he became the first simultaneous two weight world champion. And when it finally looked like he would defend his belt he faced Floyd Mayweather Jr. in the biggest fight of all time for $100 million.
But now it’s finally time for McGregor to defend his belt. I’m not necessarily saying he has to match Jones’ 8 title defences, as I believe he will retire long before he even gets there. But maybe 3 or 4 title defences against competitors like Diaz, Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson will prove he is championship material, and has what it takes to keep hold of the belt in a shark tank division stacked filled with trained killers.
It would be a move to silence the haters and stake his claim as the best to ever do it.
Become the First Fighter to Beat Khabib Nurmagomedov
McGregor is no stranger to doing something no other man has ever done before. So it would be no surprise to see him be the first fighter to beat Nurmagomedov.
Say what you like about Khabib, whether you think he’s an elite fighter or just your average Joe with a padded record (he’s not), but there’s one thing you have to say about him, he’s undefeated.
Fans on Twitter are constantly claiming Khabib is the man to dethrone McGregor. If that’s the case, then it would be equally impressive to see McGregor defend his crown against Khabib and hand him his first loss, adding another historic moment to his storied career. It is a win that would truly legitimise his G.O.A.T status.
Win the Third Fight Against Nate Diaz
McEnroe had Borg. Brady had Peyton Manning. Messi has Ronaldo. And Conor McGregor has Nate Diaz. Every great needs a great rival to make them better. Just look at Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones for example, those two men pushed and motivated each other to be better for years.
The problem with these great rivalries is that they have to be won to secure your legacy, nobody remembers the loser. Winning the trilogy fight against Nate would make Conor the clear winner in this rivalry and answer all questions asked from his doubters, it would see him earn a huge amount of respect and would catapult him to a legendary status.
However, the flip side to that is that if Nate won the third fight then Conor has even more questions asked of him, he may lose some of his star power and could also drop out of the G.O.A.T discussion.
Win the Welterweight Title
McGregor has already won the featherweight and lightweight belts, but he has claimed he’s coming for “all the belts” and I believe him.
If McGregor was the first man to become a three weight World Champion it would be hard to argue he is not the greatest mixed martial artist ever. Especially if he was to beat a top level fighter like Tyron Woodley, GSP or Robbie Lawler to become the welterweight champion. It is another impressive feat that would put him above the rest. It’s a big ask but that’s why it would make him the G.O.A.T.
Stay Clean and Know When it’s the Right Time to Retire
It sounds simple but one of the things that has hurt some of MMA’s biggest stars be considered the greatest has been their inability to stay clean and leaving the game before their inevitable decline.
Some notable stars like Chuck Liddell and B.J Penn’s cases of being the G.O.A.T have been damaged by the later stages of their careers, where they could not perform like they were capable of in their prime, leaving a sour taste in the mouths of many fans who may only remember the last few fights they had.
If McGregor quits whilst he’s ahead he won’t be fighting unnecessarily and tarnishing his legacy by competing when his chin has gone, and his athleticism has declined.
If McGregor can stay clean, which I have no doubt he will as he has always been an honest fighter, then he already has one up on those that have been caught taking steroids. Fighters like Jones and Silva’s legacies have not been ruined by testing positives but people will always view them differently because of it.
Conor has always made his intentions clear, “Get in. Get rich. Get Out” and a retirement in his early 30’s is more than likely, especially with a smart coaching team around him who want to see him happy and healthy. We will look back on his career fondly rather than thinking what could have been.
Let us know what you think Conor McGregor must do to be considered the G.O.A.T.
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