Last week, Team McGregor’s veteran fighter, Abner Lloveras out-worked Team Faber’s Jason Gonzalez in a dominate but plodding two round unanimous decision victory. The win left only two Team Faber fighters in the tournament as the show was set to progress into the quarter-final matchups that would pit team member against team member in a dominate spread of Team McGregor fighters.
This week is another double header and let me be clear. As a Jiu-Jitsu practitioner, I have an utterly disgusting lack of objectivity here. For many of us, Ryan Hall is our Great white BJJ hype. His systematic dismantling of each opponent via the use of “sports BJJ” attacks has been the sort of validation that many of us savor. Sure, we already have our Damian Mais and our Masakazu Imanaris but these days, the grappling prodigies in MMA are few and far between. For many of my BJJ friends, it’s the only reason why they have even a glancing interest in this season’s TUF.
The show opens on Chris Gruetzemacher thinking of giving up on MMA. Through a weepy eyed side-interview, he contemplates if all of the struggle and trauma is even worth it all.
Then, it’s revealed that Martin Svensson injured his arm in his bout against Thanh Le. After an MRI scan, a nagging sore arm would turn out to be a broken elbow that Svensson suffered during the then seemingly futile arm lock attempt that Thanh made during their bout.
The news puts “Gritz” back into the game show. In many ways, it’s a poetic matchup, considering it was Artem’s re-entry into the show that created the extra matchup that left an uneven fighter count for the quarter-finals, which subsequently got “Gritz” kicked out for his lackluster victory.
Still some time before the fights. In a move that was sure to make the wives and girlfriends happy, Dana threw a house party for all of the fighters complete with random friendly women in bathing suits that nobody seemed to know. It was a magnificent display that would rival any generic Coor’s Lite ad.
Back to business, Conor discusses Artem’s unorthodox fighting style. Chin up, arms down, but angles upon angles, on top of angles with powerful strikes. All of that against the grappling lead chinned style of “Gritz”.
Fight 1 Re-Cap
Artem Lobov (McGregor) vs Chris Gruetzemacher (Faber)
Chris worked to keep Artem at range with leg kicks, but he would still walk into Artem’s counter strikes. Everytime Chris would come at Artem in his Orthodox stance, the Russian southpaw, would crack him with his impressive style of off angle hooks.
Eating damage by the pound, Chris used the blunt trauma of his face to eat strikes while pressuring Artem into the fence. Gruetzemacher was tenacious, desperately looking for an opening to keep the fight in a dirty clinch against the cage. Chris would land some good shots, but Artem’s sheer volume of strikes would easily outpace Gritz’ efforts.
Gritz came out in an orthodox stance leading away at the southpaw with his jab. His combinations were routine and expected, Artem countering off of each exchange. Artem, seemingly a little more sluggish in the 2nd round, giving up more strikes and making for a close exchange between the two. Off of a lead leg kick, Chris would get caught off balance and hit clean dropping to the canvas. He would recover and get up but from there he would just erode after each punch until he eventually crumbled from a powerful left hand against the fence.
Artem Lobov wins by KO.
In the build up for the Rogers vs Hall fight, we get treated to another Team McGregor cram session in leg locks. With such little time to cover everything, they focused more on preventive leg lock measures rather than counters and late defensive tricks. It’s a sound approach considering the narrow time frame, but it’s clear that if Hall can isolate Rogers’ leg, that the Englishman is fucked.
Fight 2 Re-Cap
Saul Rogers (McGregor) vs Ryan Hall (Faber)
Both fighters came out timid of the range. Pawing and probing their lead hands into each other, Rogers didn’t want to give up an easy leg submission to Hall. Rogers would instead lunge from the outside with power strikes wanting to stay clear out of the takedown range.
The match turned into a strange meta game of range and distance as Hall threw kicks from the outside as Rogers darted in and out from long range never wanting to press Hall against the fence or commit to closing distance. In a rare clinch, Rogers gained double under hooks on Hall, Hall glanced for the rolling knee bar but Rogers would disengage the clinch remembering who he was fighting. Neither fighter took much damage in the round with Saul edging out Hall in the striking.
More outside range fighting until Hall gained the double unders and the clinch. Saul would hit the trip but hit the floor in Hall’s guard, just as Hall had intended. Saul defensively pressured Hall into the bottom corner of the fence to restrict Hall’s mobility in an attempt to negate Hall’s guard before he could pull away and get the fuck out of dodge.
Hall was clearly looking for the takedown shooting for a long range double leg. Hall was clipped hard after the failed double leg and became desperate; lunging, Granby rolling, and doing anything to keep in grapple range against the evasive Rogers. McGregor’s preventative measures would pay off as Saul would skip, hop, and river dance out of Hall’s attempts to rip off his legs.
Hall’s tenacious efforts were rewarded with a handful of clinches, but he couldn’t capitalize on the transition to the back or the follow-up armbar attempt. Each time Hall would roll upside down for a submission attack, Rogers would lean back, retain his posture, and disengage from the tangled flurry of Hall’s limbs. Hall kept re-attacking with intentional failed double leg takedowns to try and get himself buried underneath the hips of Rogers. It would continually place him in the corner with full guard unable to put a solid submission attempt onto Rogers.
Winner by majority decision, Saul Rogers.
Rogers showed an immense level of self-control only engaging on his own terms. For all of the talk about power versus finesse, it was Rogers who demonstrated tact and skill to win this bout.
Next week will be another double header as the lone American, Julian Erosa, faces off against Team McGregor’s veteran fighter, Abner Lloveras. We’ll also watch the inter-euro incest beating of Marcin Wrzosek (McGregor) vs David Teymur (McGregor).
Conor McGregor has ‘Every intention of fighting in 2018’
Despite being inactive since his historic boxing bout with Floyd Mayweather Jr. in August, Conor McGregor is never far from the headlines. Recently his out of cage antics have got people questioning if he’ll ever be back.
Thankfully the UFC lightweight champion appears to have cleared up any rumors about his fighting career.
Speaking to his sponsor Betsafe, the “Notorious” Conor McGregor said “My focus is getting back into the right ring or octagon. 2017 was historic. I have transcended both the sport of MMA and boxing. At this stage of my career, as it has been for the majority of my UFC career, potential opponents must lobby for fights with me. We could see Conor McGregor anywhere. I run the fight game, the fashion game, the whiskey game or whatever the next business endeavor might be”.
McGregor added, “I have every intention of fighting in 2018 if my compensation and business development endeavors accurately reflect my influence on combat sports.”
This comes just two weeks after UFC President Dana White told reporters “Conor might never fight again. The guy’s got $100 (expletive) million. I’ve got guys that made less than that and were lawyers and went to school their whole life and quit working.”
White went on to say “Try to get up and get punched in the face every day when you’ve got $100 million in the bank. Money changes everything with a lot of people.”
White also told reporters that the “Notorious one”, “can’t be paid enough money” and that he is “worth every penny and more.” McGregor’s recent statement suggests he knows that and won’t be back till his demands are met.
The UFC lightweight division has been stalled in the absence of the champion McGregor and now the interim champion Tony Ferguson has undergone surgery. The UFC has been known the remove belts from fighters who have been delayed for extended amounts of time, this would be highly unlikely with the popularity of McGregor.
Will Conor McGregor ever fight again?
The future of the UFC’s biggest ever star is in doubt. But it was also never a secret. “The Notorious” Conor McGregor always made his intentions clear, “Get in. Get rich. Get out”. And now he’s rich, very rich.
Get in. Get rich. Get out.
— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) August 12, 2014
In 2008 at the age of 20 a baby-faced, clean-shaven McGregor stated his ambitions for his MMA career after just 5 professional fights. He said “My dream is to be world champion in the UFC, have more money than I know what to do with, and have a great life for my kids, my grandkids, everyone in my family, everyone that’s come up with me. That’s my dream”.
Along his journey, McGregor has never kept his intentions to himself. At first, it was to get into the UFC. Then it was the featherweight belt. Then it was to replicate what he had done in his previous promotion, to become the UFC’s first simultaneous two-weight world champion.
The issue now is that McGregor has achieved everything he has set out to do. From world titles to being a multi-millionaire, he’s done it all. And now there is no statement of intent. No dream to chase.
Since he’s achieved everything he said he ever wanted, where does the hunger for more come from? Currently, it doesn’t appear to be there.
Since the last time we saw McGregor with gloves on, the charismatic Irishman has seemingly gone off the rails. There was the Bellator 187 incident in Dublin, where McGregor stormed the cage and pushed veteran referee Marc Goddard and slapped an official. But more recently the Irish Daily Mail has reported that McGregor was involved in a bar fight in his native Crumlin, where he is believed to have punched an associate of a major crime gang in Dublin. Whether this is true or not, it is still something a UFC champion and role model shouldn’t be associated with.
From the outside, McGregor’s life is more about hours spent at the club rather than the gym.
But who can blame the man for enjoying the fruits of his labor? He is acting how most 29-year-old men would if they had just received $100 million.
This is his life’s work paying off.
After McGregor’s loss at UFC 196, he wanted an immediate rematch against Nate Diaz at the same weight. It showed us he’s a true martial artist with the heart of a lion. It showed his desperation to get that win back and prove he is the better competitor. And when he won, he proved all his doubters wrong as he walked on crutches through the corridor of the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas screaming “doubt me now”.
But after his loss to Mayweather Jr., there has seemingly been no desire to arrange a fight to get back in the win column.
It’s easy to forget during this period of inactivity that McGregor is one of the most active guys in MMA. From UFC 194 to UFC 205, McGregor competed in 4 fights at 3 different weight classes against high caliber opponents inside the space of 11 months. The truth is he deserves a well-earned rest.
However, in a recent media scrum, Dana White confirmed that Conor was looking to fight before the end of the year but had been pulled from UFC 219 as punishment for the incident at Bellator 187.
Dana also told the reporters in the room “Conor might never fight again. The guys got $100 million. I’ve got guys that made less than that and were lawyers and went to school their whole life and quit working”.
White also said, “Try and get up and get punched in the face every day when you’ve got $100 million in the bank”.
The two statements from Dana are very contradicting as he isn’t sure McGregor will ever fight again, but at the same time he wanted to fight on December 30th. Maybe Dana is struggling to pick apart the mind of Conor McGregor as much as we are.
There are plenty of reasons why Conor should never come back.
Not only is he set for life but he’s also healthy. McGregor is extremely conscious about his health and has mentioned several times throughout his career about the importance of keeping your brain healthy.
But there are plenty of reasons why he should he come back.
He loves to fight and he loves making money. He needs to capitalize on that whilst he can.
McGregor doesn’t have to settle for one big payday, he has matchups waiting for him such as Ferguson, Diaz, and GSP. There is always the welterweight belt and his Croke Park dream. And the door is open for a return to boxing, especially with fighters like De La Hoya, Pacquiao, and Malignaggi calling him out.
He’s also at the peak in terms of age and physique and in terms of power. Where he has the whole MMA world on strings with every small move he makes.
There is no knowing if McGregor will ever fight again. If McGregor returns to his usual self, he will likely be back in the first quarter of 2018, where he will fight frequently. But as time ticks on and there is no fight announcement McGregor may be stripped of his belt never to be seen again.
He got in. He got rich. Is he out? Let us know.
Manny Pacquiao Hints at Possible 2018 Fight with Conor McGregor
Here we go again. Just when we thought Conor McGregor was set on a return to the octagon, boxing legend Manny Pacquiao has seemingly called out the charismatic Irishman with his latest Instagram post.
It appears the current senator of the Philippines also wants a trip on the money train that is Conor McGregor, as he sent out this cryptic message on his Instagram.
The caption reads “Happy thanksgiving! Stay fit my friend. #realboxingmatch #2018 @thenotoriousmma”.
This comes a week after retired boxer Oscar De La Hoya claimed he has been secretly training for a bout with “The Notorious One.” Speaking on ‘Golden Boy Radio with Tattoo and the Crew’, De La Hoya claimed “I’m faster than ever and stronger than ever. I know I can take out Conor McGregor out in two rounds”.
After his most recent loss to Australian boxer Jeff Horn, retirement looked imminent for ‘Pac-Man’. But a shot at McGregor and the pay day his name brings, appears to be far too tempting.
McGregor loves to test himself and he loves money. So he will be licking his lips just thinking about the opportunity to get back in the ring against a high calibre opponent like Pacquiao. Not just to make money, but to prove his doubters wrong after his boxing debut against Floyd Mayweather Jr.
McGregor’s immediate future looks set to be a fight with Tony Ferguson in 2018. But after that who knows what the future holds for the UFC lightweight champion.
If McGregor’s next fight is a boxing match with Pacquiao, then it could spell the end of his title reign. As Ferguson likes to say it’s ‘defend or vacate’ time.
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