The legend of Madison Square Garden continues.
The arena dubbed “The World’s Most Famous Arena” has hosted a myriad of historical events throughout its lifetime since the doors opened in 1968. Hosting hundreds of concerts and sporting events each year, MSG has been a destination of crowning achievement for entertainers and athletes alike. The building is filled with rich history, including the “Fight of the Century” between Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali in 1971, which laid the foundation for combat sports greatness inside the Garden. UFC 205 on November 12, 2016, will be forever etched into the history of the building as the UFC’s first event at the venue in the promotion’s twenty-three-year existence.
In 1997, the sport of mixed martial arts became illegal in the state of New York. Nineteen years later, the state has opened its arms after the UFC and the Fertitta brothers led a charge to make the sport legal again. It wasn’t easy, as they had to overcome corruption from the culinary union and the New York State Assembly, particularly, former speaker of the Assembly, Sheldon Silver, who refused to even allow the vote of legalizing mixed martial arts to become an item. Silver would be found guilty on multiple federal charges of corruption in December of 2015, which all but immediately led to the legalization of the sport just a few months later. Despite the frustrations of dealing with crooked politicians throughout the years, the heartache and struggle were well worth the wait.
On a year that would host the promotion’s bicentennial pay-per-view event, UFC 200, only the entry into New York could generate significantly more buzz. Credit that to the allure of hosting an event at Madison Square Garden for the first time, a promise of three championship fights, a host of fan-favorite fighters, and a certain Irishman on the marquee looking to make promotional history by becoming the first simultaneous two-division champion.
Conor McGregor or “Conor McTwoBelts” as he affectionately dubbed himself during the promotion of the fight against Eddie Alvarez, cemented his legacy in the record books on Saturday night. Only two fighters in UFC history have won titles in multiple divisions. BJ Penn, who held the Lightweight and Welterweight Championships, and Randy Couture who held light heavyweight and heavyweight titles, although neither did so simultaneously. Conor McGregor became the UFC Featherweight Champion at UFC 194 by knocking Jose Aldo off his throne in a mere thirteen seconds. From that moment, he set his sights on replicating a feat he accomplished under the Cage Warriors banner – hold the Featherweight and Lightweight titles at the same time. On Saturday night, it was mission accomplished.
Eddie Alvarez was arguably the toughest fighter to date to share the cage with Conor McGregor. Known for his hard-nosed, gritty style of fighting, Alvarez is the type of fighter who will take anyone into the deep end of the pool to see what they’re truly made of. His crowning achievement would come earlier this summer during International Fight Week when he absolutely starched former champ Rafael dos Anjos in the first round. Possessing solid striking power and perhaps the best wrestling ability of any opponent that McGregor has faced thus far, many thought Alvarez would expose holes in McGregor’s game. Throughout the build-up to the fight, it appeared Alvarez was on par with McGregor’s mind games that have derailed his opponents in the past before they even entered the cage. Just as Alvarez would make Dos Anjos look rather pedestrian earlier this summer, McGregor would do the same, and then some on Saturday night to Alvarez.
The fight was never close.
From the call of “Let’s get it on,” McGregor took the center of the cage and would never relinquish control of the Octagon. With his patient stalking of Alvarez who circled on the outside, McGregor would begin to pick apart the now-former lightweight champion. The Irishman would drop Alvarez with a stiff left hand early in the round, which seemed as if it surprised him more than anything, as he immediately popped back up to his feet and appeared no worse for wear. Despite his best poker face, Alvarez would be caught again with another left-hand moments later. The third left hand would follow shortly after stuffed takedowns by McGregor, sending Alvarez to the canvas again. This time, McGregor would attempt to end the fight, by following his opponent to the canvas to land additional ground and pound punches. Careful to pick his shots wisely and not spend too much energy, time would expire in the opening round before Conor could find a finishing blow. McGregor’s dual-championship run started off to the tune of a 10-8 first round.
Heading into the second round, one would feel the gameplan to wrestle surely would jump to the forefront for Alvarez. The only problem with that strategy? McGregor’s takedown defense was perfect. Pundits who were unimpressed with McGregor’s takedown defense of Nate Diaz in their second bout would state Alvarez brings a whole different type of wrestling ability, and they would be correct. However, on the night, McGregor’s work ethic would shine as he stuffed every attempt by Alvarez. If Eddie couldn’t get the fight to the mat, it would only be a matter of time before McGregor would land another big punch to put the fight in jeopardy, and that would come around the 2-minute mark of the second round. McGregor even added in a taunt of putting both hands behind his back while sticking his chin out towards Alvarez. A beautiful three-punch combo would spell the end of the contest and a historic moment so big that only Madison Square Garden could contain would be created. Conor McGregor made history as only he could, and it continued into his epic post-fight speech with Joe Rogan.
As Big John McCarthy raised McGregor’s hand while Bruce Buffer’s voice filled the arena, Conor was yelling at Dana and looking around at anyone else in the cage that could have been responsible for not having two belts at the ready for him to celebrate with inside the cage. “Where the f*ck is my second belt? I’ve already got this one! Where’ the second one at? 4.2 Billion this company was sold for! Go backstage and grab that f***** belt from somewhere!” As McGregor continued on about his opponents not being on his level, it would be the near-apology for his actions that would put an exclamation point on the evening.
“I’ve spent a lot of time Joe, slaying everybody in the company. Backstage I’m starting fights off everybody. I’ve ridiculed everyone on the roster. And I just want to say from the bottom of my heart, I’d like to take this chance to apologize…to absolutely nobody! The double champ does what the f*** he wants!”
Scrambling to rectify the missing belt situation, Dana would arrive with a second belt as Conor delivered the epic line, which we would later come to find out was Tyron Woodley’s belt. Photo ops and celebration on top of the cage with both belts commenced. The dream scenario for the UFC and WME-IMG was realized. Conor bless.
Fight of the Night was a draw…right?
While Conor McGregor made history in the main event of the evening, it would be the co-main event that would earn Fight of the Night honors. The Welterweight Champion Tyron Woodley and second-ranked challenger, Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson put on a show to be remembered. Wonderboy has dismantled his opponents throughout his UFC run with his wide karate stance and lighting fast kicks that seemingly come at his opponents out of nowhere. Tyron Woodley has dismantled his opponents in the UFC by a different tune, with aggressive and powerful punching, backed up with a strong wrestling base.
The fight created an interesting clash of styles between the two men. Thompson has shown in his previous fights, an underrated ability to defend against takedowns, which comes from his training with his brother-in-law, Chris Weidman. We did not know, however, how well Tyron Woodley would be able to defend the unique striking from Wonderboy. Woodley began to reveal some of his secrets of this training camp less than 24 hours before the fight. In his own vlog series, “Champ Camp” and other official UFC pre-fight documentaries, Woodley was shown training with Sage Northcutt, who is another UFC star with a background it point-based karate fighting. Some were unimpressed as Sage is not nearly as unique as Wonderboy on the feet and the betting lines in Vegas still saw Thompson as the favorite to win the bout. However, Woodley would reveal he brought in many other key names to train with such as Raymond Daniels and Chris Spang, who helped him become “overly prepared” to see the kicks from Wonderboy coming. The preparation was successful because Woodley blocked any head kick attempt from Wonderboy, and defended his flashier techniques very well. Thompson’s success would largely come from the constant pressure and the unknown of what was coming next, which ultimately evolved quickly into a high-stakes game of chess.
The scoring of the bout would cause an uproar on social media. The first round was largely Woodley’s after catching a kick from Thompson, completing a takedown, and continuing to control the challenger on the ground for a majority of the round, while busting open Wonderboy’s nose. The next two rounds would easily be seen in the favor of Wonderboy, with heavy pressure and keeping the champion backing up against the cage while landing more strikes. The fourth round was the most dominant round of the entire fight. Woodley hurt Wonderboy with a hard punch that sent him to the canvas and followed up with hard ground and pound. The fight was very close to being stopped, but Thompson survived the onslaught. When Woodley accepted he wasn’t going to finish his opponent from strikes, he took advantage of an opening and locked in a very deep guillotine choke, which was locked in for nearly a minute. Wonderboy would not tap and eventually worked his way out of the attempt. Frustration and exhaustion set in for Woodley, who would end the round on the bottom with Thompson in his guard, however, the round was a clear 10-8 on the scorecards, or at least should have been scored as such. The fifth round was tight, but more closely resembled the second and third rounds, which were in favor of Thompson.
A majority of the media scoring the bout saw it as a 47-47 draw or in favor of Woodley 48-47. The official decision would read a majority draw with two scores of 47-47 and a 48-47 in favor of Woodley. There was some drama initially as it was first communicated a split decision by Bruce Buffer. As Joe Rogan began his post-fight interview with Woodley, the pair were approached and told to pump the brakes on the interview, which upset Woodley because he feared they were about to reverse the decision to Thompson. Corrections were made to annouce the bout as a draw, and while Woodley didn’t lose his belt, he didn’t earn a notch in the win column with the draw.
When a picture of the official scorecard surfaced, more confusion set in. Judge Doug Crosby scored the first round a 10-8 for Woodley, a round that was dominated by the champion but did not come close to a finish of Thompson. He then inexplicably scored the fourth round a 10-9, which was a round that was home to multiple near-finishes by the champion. Despite the questionable scoring that caused us to arrive at the decision, Woodley retains the title, and neither men walk away with a loss on their record, which is a fair and fitting result to the battle that took place.
We’ve gotta run that one back…immediately.
Joanna Continues her Reign
The co-co-main event of the evening showcased the best of the best in the strawweight division as Joanna Jedrzejczyk defended her title against Karolina Kowalkiewicz. Two ladies that have a history that dates back to their amateur careers in their home country of Poland, made everyone aware of why they were both undefeated coming into Saturday night. Joanna largely dominated the first three rounds of the fight, looking every bit like the dominant champion she has been since winning the belt at UFC 185. Karolina would then prove she wasn’t going to accept the previous fifteen minutes as a foregone conclusion by rocking the champion with a hard punch that caused Joanna to go into survival mode. The fourth round would be Karolina’s only shining moment, with Jedrzejczyk recovering in the final frame to win the last round and retain her title.
There is a certain level of dominance among champions in the UFC. Demetrious Johnson is the clear number one pound-for-pound fighter, having completely dominated the flyweight division. Joanna Jedrzejczyk is on that same path as it relates to the strawweight division. Dominick Cruz means the same to the bantamweight division, and if Jon Jones can manage to get his career back in line, will mean the same to the light heavyweights. Some fighters are just clearly better than anyone else in their division, truly in a league of their own. While Conor McGregor holds two titles at different weight classes, he has yet to defend his Featherweight belt, despite entering the cage three times since winning it. He has shown he can not only win against but dominate some of the biggest names in the sport. Only time will tell if he will leave a lasting legacy of defending those titles as the names mentioned above.
While UFC 205 was a night of champions, it was also a night a former champion called it a career. Miesha Tate decided to announce her retirement after suffering a loss to Raquel Pennington in the opening bout of the main card. For the fighter who seemingly would never get to wrap the gold around her waist after coming up short against Ronda Rousey twice during her dominating run, would see that dream realized when she choked out Holly Holm. Perhaps more should have seen it coming, considering Tate nearly retired before Holm defeated Rousey which opened the door for her chance at gold. After losing her strap to Amanda Nunes at UFC 200, her retirement was coming sooner rather than later. Nevertheless, Tate’s legacy in the women’s bantamweight division has long been defined well before the result on Saturday night. Congratulations on a great career, Cupcake.
The UFC’s first trip to Madison Square Garden was one for the ages. A completely stacked card filled with exciting fights on the prelims and a couple of spectacular finishes kept the crowd rocking all night long. While history was made with Pay-Per-View numbers and a record-breaking gate, perhaps it was perfect timing despite the corruption that was overcome, to have the event take place at the perfect time, with the perfect superstars in place to leave a lasting image.
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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