The highs and lows of Conor McGregor’s UFC career

Conor McGregor

Photo by Andrius Petrucenia [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)]

Written by James Gray (@JGray1998)

Over the last couple of years Conor McGregor has become a name that stimulates instant recognition within the sporting world, regardless of a person’s affiliation to mixed martial arts (MMA).

The enigmatic Irishman has enjoyed a highly successful, often polarising life to date. Here, Nerve Sport‘s James Gray takes a closer look at the highs and lows in the career of the man aptly nicknamed ‘The Notorious’.

HIGH: Double Champ History

It was during his time competing for the British-based promotion Cage Warriors that McGregor first rose to attention on the MMA circuit.

In the summer of 2012, he won the Cage Warriors Featherweight title, before adding the lightweight strap to his name in his very next fight. In doing so, McGregor became the first person in the company’s history to simultaneously hold two titles in two separate weight classes.

HIGH: UFC Signing

Following his unprecedented success for Cage Warriors, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) were quick to act and in early 2013 offered McGregor a multi-fight deal which he duly signed.

At the time McGregor was only the second ever Irishman to sign for the promotion.

HIGH: UFC Featherweight Champ

Upon joining the UFC, ‘Mystic Mac’ continued where he had left off in Cage Warriors, winning his first seven fights in the octagon to set up a mouth-watering clash with UFC Featherweight champion Jose Aldo.

The two fighters met at UFC 194. Despite being unbeaten for nearly eight years it took McGregor only 13 seconds of the first round to knock Aldo out and claim the Featherweight belt – setting a new record in the process for the fastest ever finish in a UFC title fight.

LOW: Halted by Diaz

After emphatically dispatching Aldo, McGregor signalled his intention to move up weight classes to lightweight, aiming to repeat his achievement in Cage Warriors by becoming a two-weight champion.

The Irishman was set to face UFC Lightweight champ Rafael dos Anjos, in early 2016. However, the Brazilian withdrew from the contest due to injury.

On just 13 days notice, Nate Diaz agreed to step in and replace dos Anjos. McGregor later agreed for the fight to take place two weight categories higher than his bout with Aldo, to prevent Diaz having to cut down to lightweight.

Despite entering the contest as a heavy favourite McGregor struggled to find the finish and to the shock of the world suffered his first defeat since joining the UFC, Diaz submitting the Irishman due to a rear naked choke in the second round.

HIGH: Avenging Loss to Diaz

Determined to put the record straight against Diaz, McGregor called for a rematch with his opponent, which came at UFC 202.

The fight was a closely contested affair, lasting the full five rounds. On this occasion though McGregor was able to gain revenge over his rival after being awarded a majority points decision.

The event later went on to become the highest selling pay-per-view in UFC history.

HIGH: Double Double Champ

McGregor was given his opportunity at becoming a two-weight champion in the UFC when he was scheduled to face UFC Lightweight champ Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205.

The Irishman did not let the opportunity drift by and controlled the fight with ease from start to finish, eventually securing the win in the second round via technical knock-out (TKO).

In doing so, McGregor created yet more history by becoming the first UFC fighter to simultaneously hold two belts in two separate weight divisions – coining the self-proclaimed title of the ‘double champ champ’.

HIGH/LOW: Boxing Loss to Floyd Mayweather

Announcing a break from fighting in the UFC after his victory over Alvarez, McGregor revealed his plans to fight Floyd Mayweather in a boxing match in late 2017.

Mayweather, as an unbeaten professional boxer, was widely expected to win with relative ease. However, McGregor was able to survive ten rounds with the former world champion before succumbing to a TKO loss.

Despite losing, McGregor earned praise from various quarters for facing such as a high calibre opponent on his professional boxing debut.

LOW: UFC Bus Attack

In 2018 McGregor infamously attacked a bus that was transporting UFC fighters from a media day. The incident involved him throwing a metal dolly at the bus, which injured several fighters as a result.

The Irishman claimed he was attempting to confront UFC fighter Khabib Nurmagomedov. Khabib, who was on the bus, had been involved in an altercation with Artem Lobov, a close friend of McGregor’s two days before the bus attack.

McGregor was later arrested and pleaded guilty to one count of disorderly conduct.

LOW: UFC Return Loss to Khabib

McGregor returned to UFC action against rival Khabib at UFC 229 for the UFC Lightweight championship.

A toxic build-up led to a highly emotional contest, which Khabib won by submission in the fourth round.

Arguably more memorable than the fight itself though was the brawl that ensued afterwards between both fighters’ entourages. Khabib infamously jumped out of the octagon to attack McGregor’s training partner Dillon Danis, whilst McGregor also came to blows with several of Khabib’s corner.

Significant repercussions later followed for both fighters. Khabib and McGregor were suspended for nine and six months respectively and both were fined substantial fees.

LOW: Arrested Again

‘The Notorious’ again returned to the headlines earlier this month after an altercation with a fan in Miami. It was alleged that McGregor took the fan’s phone and smashed it on the ground after they attempted to take photos of the Irishman.

McGregor was later arrested and charged with strong-armed robbery and criminal mischief, for which he is still awaiting the outcome of.

After all these scintillating highs and desperate lows, it’s fair to say you’ll never have a more mercurial, controversial athlete than Conor McGregor.