With a laser-guided left hand and a gorgeous combination to finish the job, Conor McGregor made history last Saturday at UFC 205.
The Irish megastar had stated at the beginning of the year that he would become a two-weight champion and while it came a little later than he had expected, ‘The Notorious One’ now holds both the UFC lightweight and featherweight titles in his grasp.
With McGregor now firmly sitting atop of the MMA world and a slew of contenders beneath him, the MMALatestNews team have decided to take a hold of the reigns on Conor McGregor’s career and make their case for who should be next up for Dublin’s favourite son:
The case for Khabib Nurmagomedov, by Tony Sisombath (@Trigga_MMA)
Conor McGregor solidified his spot in the UFC Hall of Fame when he defeated Eddie Alvarez, becoming the first, and only dual-weight champion in UFC history. Now if McGregor wants to be known as the greatest of all time (GOAT), he has to defend his belts.
Khabib Nurmagomedov is the perfect opponent for McGregor’s first title defense. Nurmagomedov is undefeated, and currently has the longest win streak in all of mixed martial arts today (24).
Stylistically, this is what people want to see. One of the world’s most talented strikers (McGregor) versus one of the most dominant grapplers (Nurmagomedov). So far in his MMA career, we have only seen McGregor struggle in two areas: grappling and maybe cardio. What is Nurmagomedov great at? Pushing the pace, taking his opponents down, and smashing them with vicious ground and pound. If Conor McGregor wants to silence more of his “haters”, he will have to prove them wrong once again.
Not only stylistically is it an intriguing fight, but the verbal jabs already thrown at each other make it exciting. Conor McGregor is no stranger when it comes to trash talk. He is the best there is when it comes to it. That did not stop Khabib Nurmagomedov from putting his two cents in though.
“Your guy, beginning of year, tapped like chicken!”
“Irish, only 6 million, Russia, 150 million.”
You can hype it up, promote it for a bigger national market to the UFC, and sell the fight for millions of buys.
Aside from the style versus style and the trash talk, Khabib Nurmagomedov is truly the number one contender. Yes, Tony Ferguson is coming off a decision win over Rafael Dos Anjos, but Nurmagomedov is coming off a more dominant performance over Michael Johnson, where he finished the fight. Michael Johnson is also the last person to beat Ferguson in a fight.
To make it more simple, 24 fight win streak; 9 fight win streak; anything else.
The case for Tony Ferguson, by Graeme Harper (@GraemeHarp)
If you’re looking for one man to step into the Octagon with Conor McGregor next, look no further than Tony ‘El Cucuy’ Ferguson.
First and foremost, his current in-ring resume is simply the most deserving on the long list of contenders. Riding the longest winning streak that the UFC’s lightweight division has ever seen and with his nine-fight stretch coming in the most competitive division in all of MMA, there’s simply no looking past Ferguson.
Since starting his ridiculous run in 2013, Ferguson has finished six of his nine opponents with his last five fights all earning himself a post-fight bonus from the UFC brass. He has submitted both Abel Trujillo and Gleison Tibau, an achievement that eluded Nurmagomedov in his fights with the pair. He has submitted the number five ranked Edson Barboza as well as one of lightweight’s hottest prospects in ‘Groovy’ Lando Vannata. Most recently, he put on an inimitable pace for five rounds against the former champ Rafael dos Anjos at altitude.
Stylistically, a match-up between Ferguson and McGregor would be every fight fans dream. Both men have an unflappable approach in the cage, are as tough as old boots and the strikes from both men would be coming from so many angles, you wouldn’t know where to look. If you want to really test Conor McGregor, Tony Ferguson’s physical advantages are a sure fire way to give McGregor problems and his own ‘flowy’ style makes you wonder whether he’s just created a new technique on the spot – and that’s all without even mentioning his grappling style.
Taking a step outside of the cage, Ferguson also has the much-needed skills in the art of promotion. He boasts the charisma and unique personality to sell a fight with McGregor and he’d be one of the few people who could keep up with the brass Irishman on the mic in the build-up.
It’s no secret that Conor McGregor doesn’t see much value in facing Aldo once more and a move up to welterweight doesn’t make sense when he’s already holding two belts. The two weight champ needs to defend one of his belts next and Tony Ferguson is the only man who can match Conor McGregor every step of the way.
The case for Nate Diaz, by Stephen Rivers (@stephenjrivers)
The man Conor McGregor should face next is Nate Diaz, and barring the possibility of meeting a bigger name like Georges St-Pierre or big Brother Nick, I don’t even think it’s a tough decision to make.
The first installment of McGregor vs. Diaz did a reported 1.6m pay-per-view buys, a figure they had got nowhere near since UFC 100 in 2009. McGregor vs. Diaz 2 topped it with 1.65m. Financially this is a trilogy that has to be completed, and there are a tonne of other reasons for that too.
Diaz is the only fighter who has beaten McGregor in his UFC run. Hell, there are people who think he actually won the second fight too. That alone gives him a strong claim for a title shot. Moving the fight back down to lightweight with a belt on the line is the extra spice to help the UFC smash their pay-per-view record once again, something White says they may have done with UFC 205. People can speculate as to whether Khabib Nurmagomedov or Tony Ferguson might be capable of beating McGregor, but we know Diaz can, because he has.
And really is there any reason for outrage if one of those other guys doesn’t get the shot? Given his constant injury problems, can you invest the sort of money that the UFC does when they promote a Conor McGregor led event, hoping that Khabib actually stays healthy? Don’t even get me started on Jose Aldo, who has caused them the same problems year upon year, and has done nothing but berate the company for months now. Why should he be rewarded for that with the kind of stellar payday that only fighting McGregor can bring a Brazilian with no drawing power in the United States? Ferguson couldn’t even be bothered to call McGregor out after his career best win over Rafael dos Anjos, and I’m supposed to feel bad for him if he has to wait?
McGregor’s UFC run has been about making money and making history. Defeating Khabib, Aldo, Ferguson, or some other lightweight contender only does one of those things, and it still makes less money than a third bout with Diaz. Conor McGregor vs. Nate Diaz has been MMA’s hottest feud since, well, possibly ever? The numbers don’t lie. It gave us two thrilling fights. It gave us the “touch butt in the park” quote of the year. It set everything up perfectly for a third fight between two personalities that ignited something fans loved, and remains unfinished.
The case for Jose Aldo, by Brice Schroeder (@BriceJSchroeder)
Conor McGregor’s historic win at UFC 205 opened up a plethora of options for his next opponent, but I believe Jose Aldo is the most deserving of that fight.
Prior to Aldo’s loss to McGregor at UFC 194, Aldo was universally regarded as a top three pound for pound fighter in the world. He boasted a fight record that included nine title defenses, an eighteen fight win streak littered with some of the biggest names in the sport, and six post-fight performance bonuses. Any other champion with that resume would be given an immediate title shot no questions asked. Instead, McGregor took a break from the featherweight division to split a pair of fights with a fighter with a 13-8 UFC record (Nate Diaz) before winning his second belt against a champion who had yet defended his belt either.
During McGregor’s continued sabbatical the UFC booked an interim featherweight championship between Jose Aldo and Frankie Edgar. Aldo showed he was recovered from his ego shattering loss to McGregor by controlling the fight against Edgar en route to a fairly easy decision victory at UFC 200.
I understand why it was hard to book Aldo in an immediate rematch with Conor. Conor landed one of the most beautiful punches in UFC history just thirteen seconds into their fight that floored Aldo. No one knew what Aldo would be after that devastating loss, but in his fight at UFC 200 he showed no lingering effects from that knockout. In his loss to McGregor, Aldo let his emotions get the better of him. He rushed the Irishman as soon as the bell sounded which is such a removal from any of his fights during his title reign. In a rematch I believe Aldo would be much more competitive and would keep his emotions in check. We have seen great fighters get knocked out and comeback to win the rematch, most notably Georges St. Pierre against Matt Serra.
Aldo did more than enough in his time as champion to earn his chance at redemption.
An old saying in combat sports states you are not truly the champion until you have defended your belt. Conor should move back to his original weight class and defend the featherweight belt if he wants to truly be considered a two division champ. I believe a title defense has to be made at least once and if he ever plans on defending that 145 pound belt he carries around, it must be against the current interim champion, Jose Aldo.
I personally believe Conor will never fight at featherweight ever again. If that indeed is the case, I still see an avenue where Aldo may get a chance at that rematch. If he is able to defend his interim featherweight title a few times, this would set up an epic champion vs. champion super fight if Conor is still in possession of the 155 pound belt. Aldo has mulled over a jump to lightweight several times in the past and a chance at revenge may be the prize that entices Aldo to finally make that move.
The case for Georges St-Pierre, by Ralph Welch (@ralphwelchmma)
Conor McGregor has climbed the mountain. He’s made history. Redefined our expectations of what a star is in MMA. We are in new territory here and the old rules about how/when you defend a title no longer apply.
The titles are nice trinkets but the name McGregor is what carries weight in the UFC. When Conor sits down to decide his next move he’s going to want someone who can do their share of the heavy lifting. He’s already planning an exit strategy from the sport. Therefore, every fight needs to be special. There’s no space for run-of-the-mill title defences.
He’s now the king of lightweight and featherweight. There’s really only one moniker that eludes him: The King of Pay-Per-View. A fight against a returning Georges St-Pierre would be a dream clash between the UFC’s biggest stars of all time. It’s a legacy-defining fight for both men. A clash between the old and the new. And it’s exactly the sort of spectacular that fits the new UFC owners’ business strategy.
Put McGregor in the octagon with Georges St-Pierre and it would be the sort of financial and showbusiness extravaganza that would really announce the new era of UFC.
It might sound unlikely. Especially given the state of GSP’s current relationship with the UFC brass.
But if it makes dollars – and this makes millions upon millions of them – then in this sport, it makes perfect sense.
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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