Is Conor McGregor Missing the 'Mixed' from Mixed Martial Arts?
The wait is over. It was never a case of ‘if’ this fight would ever happen, it was a matter of when. October 6th will bring one of the greatest (or at least, one of my favourite) rivalries to a climax when Conor McGregor finally makes his return to the octagon and faces the undefeated Khabib Nurmagomedov
I am not ashamed to say that it was McGregor that actually ignited my love for MMA. I started watching UFC fight cards around the time that McGregor fought Chad Mendes, with the now infamous 13 second KO of Jose Aldo that followed being the first (of many) fights that I set my alarm at 5am for, in turn ruining the rest of my Sunday and getting my working week off to a rocky start, since I live in the UK.
I am also not ashamed to say that I have officially disbanded from the McGregor bandwagon, and quite frankly, find him abhorrent.
I wanted to write this article to unpick the question of whether Conor McGregor is actually that good. To look at his record is impressive. The GIFs that are flooding my timeline on Twitter are exceptional. But do they tell the whole story?
Let’s start with the unquestionable attributes that could face a real danger to the undefeated Eagle.
We (or anybody who follows MMA in any way, shape, form or fashion) are all aware of the power Conor holds in his left hand. He made Eddie Alvarez, a truly exceptional fighter, look like an utter amateur. It wasn’t the most entertaining fight to watch (such one-sided bouts never are IMO), but it was a near- perfect victory for McGregor. The four punch combo that the second round was brought to a close with was absolutely sensational and I watched those 20 seconds every day for about a month that followed. Bravo.
We are also aware of the psychological warfare that Conor unleashes unabashedly to his opponents, with great aplomb. Jose Aldo tried to keep his cool throughout the multiple press conferences that lead up to UFC 194, and in my opinion, kept a relatively calm composure throughout. But when the lights went down and it was the two fights opposite one another, he looked broken and defeated before the fight began. And we all know how that one concluded…
The Diaz fights were a delightful saga within the UFC, with the first ending rather unexpectedly, and the second ending well, quite surprisingly. I watched the first of the two fights at home, and was stunned for days afterwards. Which brings us back to my initial question; is Conor McGregor as great as we have all carved him out to be, when he has such a poor run on the ground?
Diaz made his submission look easy, and with McGregor having tapped with almost immediate effect, makes me question whether he himself knew that he did not have the skills to even attempt to reverse or retake control. Diaz is marketed to us as the epitome of the word ‘warrior,’ and he is in the way of his brawling nature and the exceptionally entertaining fights that he provides us all with. But, let’s not forget that he’s lost almost as many fights as he has won. It’s also worth mentioning that Diaz handled McGregor’s bullyboy tactics exceptionally well, and basically, couldn’t be bothered to engage or interact. Eddie Alvarez gave it a go and spectacularly failed, both in and out of the octagon.
Heading further back into McGregor’s career we have the Chad Mendes fight. Yes, it was an impressive knockout. Yes, McGregor ‘faced’ (if that’s even the correct term) adversity throughout the whole fight, leading to the KO. But what the 30 second GIFs spewed out by the UFC on an hourly basis don’t tell us, is the full story of that fight.
McGregor was completely schooled on the ground by Mendes, who took the fight on alarmingly short notice. Aldo officially pulled out of the intended fight on June 30th, with the fight between Chad and Conor taking place a mere 11 days later. Was it McGregor that defeated Mendes, or his own fatigue? And if Mendes had HAD his full training camp, and was at 100%, would McGregor still have the Aldo fight under his belt, with the infamous 13 second KO that everybody seems to expect from him fight on fight?
‘Well, he beat Max Holloway,’ is another phrase scoffed and bandied around unintelligibly. Max Holloway was not much more than a child when he fought McGregor. A fight at featherweight between the two would certainly not go down in the same fashion should it happen any time soon, now that Max is a fully evolved fighter. Oh, and even then, McGregor was unable to finish him…
So, let’s fast forward to Saturday. Khabib. Undefeated. Arguably un-‘tested’ yet in his career. A score to settle and a genuine hatred between the two. Will McGregor get the job done? I hope not, and I doubt it. McGregor’s only chance (in my opinion) is an early finish or he might as well head back to his champagne lifestyle now. McGregor will also be forced to be tentative, knowing Khabib’s grappling and ground game would highlight his flaws and rack up the points on the scorecard, making it a hell of a lot more of a competitive fight than some seem to be making this out to be.
Hopefully, Khabib Nurmagomedov will show to the world that the divisions that McGregor has attempted to hold up in his bid for Kardashian-esque lavish fame and egocentric lifestyle, have moved on without him and successfully so, and McGregor can crawl back under the rock (or the multi-million pound yacht) he has been hiding on for two years.
It’s Khabib time.