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Conor McGregor

UFC 189: Mendes vs. McGregor Preview

Vinny Craig

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The most anticipated event of the year is finally here. When the UFC announced that Featherweight contender Conor McGregor would finally get his shot at title holder and #2 in MMA Latest News P4P rankings, Jose Aldo it was instantly shrouded in hype and fanfare. When it came out that Aldo was injured and might miss the fight, the fighting world was skeptical. When it was announced he would be replaced by #1 contender Chad Mendes, everyone went nuts. With the Welterweight title on the line as champion Robbie Lawler faces Rory MacDonald for the second time, the event should be one for the ages. *All rankings come from MMA Latest News official rankings

Brad Pickett vs. Thomas Almeida

A Bantamweight bout starts off your PPV (Fight Pass prelims start at 7 PM EST, Fox Sports 1 prelims start at 8 PM EST, Main Card starts at 10 PM EST)** as  Brad Pickett (24-10 MMA; 4-5 UFC) will meet Thomas Almeida (19-0; 2-0) in a battle of the unranked. Almeida is a natural Bantamweight while Pickett has fought at different weight classes throughout his time in the sport.

Pickett last saw action in November when he lost to Chico Camus by Split-Decision. That dropped Pickett for his third loss in four fights. He also lost to Michael McDonald (Bantamweight fight) and Ian McCall (Flyweight). His lone win in that span was over Neil Seery at UFC Fight Night: Gustafsson vs. Manuwa. Pickett has a brawler style which shows with his six Zuffa fight night bonuses. He comes into the contest landing 3.18 Significant Strikes per Minute (SLpM) *** and landing 2.71 Takedowns per 15 min.

Almeida has yet to taste defeat in his MMA career with 19 straight wins. He made his promotional debut at UFC Fight Night: Shogun vs. St. Preux. He would get the first decision win of his career when he beat Tim Gorman in a Fight of the Night effort. Almeida landed 120 Significant Strikes in that contest. He would finish his next fight before the end of the first round with a TKO at UFC 186.’Thominhas’ lands on 51% of his Significant Strikes while Defending against 64% of his opponents.

Gunnar Nelson vs. Brandon Thatch

Gunnar Nelson (13-1-1; 4-1) will face late replacement Brandon Thatch (11-2; 2-1). Nelson was originally supposed to fight John Hathaway before an injury made him pull out. A whirlwind of changes then happened as Thatch was pulled from his fight against John Howard. Howards new opponent is Irish Welterweight Cathal Pendred who fought just 28 days ago.

Nelson was a winner of his first thirteen when he stepped into a headlining bout with Rick Story back in October. The fight was an interesting chess match with action that ended in a split-decision loss for Nelson. He started his UFC career with four straight victories, including three by Rear-Naked choke. ‘Gunni’ lands about a 1.5 Takedowns per 15 min. and utilizes that with submission attempts. His 55% Striking Accuracy would be one of the best in the division if he qualified.

Thatch also last saw action in a headlining role. He was expected to be the co-main event with Stephen Thompson at UFC Fight Night Broomsfield. He ended up headlining the card with Benson Henderson. The back and forth fight gave both guys some extra money, but Thatch was submitted with a Rear-Naked Choke in the fourth round. That ended his streak of 10 straight first round finishes. ‘Rukus’ averages 3.24 SLpM and has a 63% Striking Defense. He takes down his opponent 75% of the time and averages 2.0 Takedowns per 15 min.

Dennis Bermudez vs. Jeremy Stephens

On a night where the Featherweight star power is on display, an interesting match-up between Dennis Bermudez (14-4; 7-2) and Jeremy Stephens (23-11; 10-10) gets a main card slot. Both were formerly in other divisions and have seen success go their way at 145. A lot of experience will be in the cage with 29 career UFC fights combined for the two.

Bermudez was on a seven fight win streak when the UFC set up a fight with Ricardo Lamas. It was the toughest match up he had so far, and it proved too much for him. He lost by Guillotine in the first round and saw his title hopes dwindle. Over his win streak, he finished three fights and had wins over Max Holloway and Clay Guida. He has five fight night bonuses to his name and will look for another one on Saturday. ‘The Menace’ is top 10 in most categories for the division and comes in averaging 4.28 SLpM and 4.48 Takedowns per 15 min. His grappling is superb as he also has a 92% Takedown Defense (TDD) and 1.8 Submission attempts per 15 min.

Stephens is a brawler through and through. He has 6 fight night bonuses in his career as a UFC fighter. It’s been tough times for the former Lightweight as he has lost his last two Cub Swanson and Charles Oliveira. Before that, he started off his Featherweight time going 3-0 with wins over Esteven Payan, Rony Jason and Darren Elkins. His 64% Striking Defense is well over the average. He also comes in with 2.71 SlpM.

(c)Robbie Lawler vs. Rory MacDonald- For the UFC Welterweight Championship

The Welterweight title is on the line in the co-main event as champion Robbie Lawler (25-10, 1 NC; 10-4) faces the challenger, Rory MacDonald (18-2; 9-2). The Welterweight title had been monopolized by Georges St. Pierre for years before the former champ retired. The first two title fights for his belt involved Robbie Lawler and Johny Hendricks, with the two splitting the fights. Lawler is the current champion and faces a familiar opponent in Rory MacDonald whom he has beaten by Split-Decision before.

Lawler fought five times in 13 months spanning from November 2013 to December 2014. He won 4 fights and lost the first shot at the title against Johny Hendricks at UFC 171. After winning two fights in impressive fashion over Jake Ellenberger and Matt Brown, the UFC rewarded him with another shot at Hendricks at UFC 181. He did not miss a beat and one up’d the champion this time as he won by split-decision. He landed a combined 266 Significant Strikes in his two title fights in 2014 and stopped 20 of 27 takedowns. He lands with 3.51 SLpM and has a 62% Striking Defense. He has the fourth most knockdowns landed in Welterweight history with 7.

MacDonald is the #3 ranked Welterweight. He was expected to face Hector Lombard with a third Lawler- Hendricks fight slated for the title. Lombard tested positive for PED’s and was suspended while the UFC changed its plans and gave the title shot to MacDonald. He has won his last three and 8 of his last 9 (the only loss is to Lawler by split-decision). He has wins over Damien Maia, Tyron Woodley and Tarec Saffiedine after the loss. MacDonald lands 3.94 Significant Strikes per Minute while only only absorbing 2.42. He takes his opponents down 2.39 per 15 min. rate with 55% Accuracy.

Chad Mendes vs. Conor McGregor- for Interim UFC Featherweight Championship

Aldo is injured, Mendes is stepping in. The fight is for the belt. Let’s keep it simple for now, and leave the hard stuff to the UFC. Chad Mendes (17-2; 8-2) and Conor McGregor (17-2; 5-0) will finally settle their differences in the Octagon… and it’s for a title. The two have been jawing since Mendes fought Aldo back in October. The ‘can Conor beat a wrestler’ debate will finally be put to rest as well.

Mendes just headlined an event in April. We saw him knock off another former title challenger in Ricardo Lamas. He has won 6 of his last 7, with the only loss coming to Aldo in their second match. In that span, he has five KO/TKO of his opponents. Mendes has improved his striking since joining the UFC and he now boasts a 2.68 SLpM and only a 1.93 SApM. His wrestling is still top notch as he takes down his opponents at a 4.1 per 15 min. pace and has never been taken down in 13 chances.

McGregor was one of the biggest signs by the UFC and came in with a ton of hype. He backed it up quickly with a first round TKO over Marcus Brimage. Since joining the organization, he has won 5 straight with four finishes over Max Holloway, Diego Brandao, Dustin Poirier and Dennis Siver. Every fight has been more and more hyped and finally it has almost climaxed into something so big it will never be beaten. McGregor has impressive stats to back up his brash talk with 5.72 SlpM and only 2.98 SapM. He has never been taken down (officially) and will look to keep the fight standing to try and expose Mendes.

**All records from Sherdog.com

***All stats from FightMetric.com

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Conor McGregor

Conor McGregor has ‘Every intention of fighting in 2018’

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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.

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Conor McGregor

Will Conor McGregor ever fight again?

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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.

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.

 

Conor McGregor UFC 205

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.

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Manny Pacquiao Hints at Possible 2018 Fight with Conor McGregor

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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.

Happy Thanksgiving! Stay fit my friend. #realboxingmatch #2018 @thenotoriousmma

A post shared by Manny Pacquiao (@mannypacquiao) on

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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