UFC superstar Conor McGregor’s best and worst top 5

The biggest name in MMA is set to return to action after a three year lay off. The ‘Notorious’ Conor McGregor will make his long awaited comeback on 30 June to fight ‘Iron’ Michael Chandler. In what could be McGregor’s final walk to the Octagon, Jonty Dine looks back at the five moments which made the Notorious one of the biggest names in sport and five which saw him become one of its most polarising.

The Highs

5. ‘We aren’t here to take part, we’re here to take over!’

Fight Night July 2014 – Knocked out Diego Brandao in 4 minutes.

With an adoring horde of fans in Dublin screaming for every strike, McGregor made light work of Brandao, even managing to land a takedown before overwhelming the Brazilian with a barrage of punches. On the mic after the one-sided win, McGregor uttered the iconic line which has been immortalised in murals across the globe. The ascent to superstardom was well underway.

4. ‘Nobody can take that left hand shot’

UFC 189 July 2015 – TKO’s Chad Mendes in round two to win interim Featherweight strap.

One of the few criticisms lobbed at McGregor in his early UFC career was that he was protected and was given favourable match ups. However, stepping up on just two weeks notice to take on the elite wrestling credentials of Chad Mendes, McGregor shattered this perception and after weathering an early storm and surviving on the ground, rose back to his feet, and cracked Mendes with a thunderous left with just seconds remaining in the round.

3. ‘Surprise, surprise mother f******! The king is back!’

UFC 202 August 2016 – Beats Nate Diaz by majority decision in their rematch.

Some of the aura surrounding McGregor had faded after he suffered a first loss in the UFC, submitting to a rear naked choke to Nate Diaz, albeit in a step up to welterweight. However, the rematch showed Conor was prepared to enter an absolute dog fight. He learned to respect Diaz’s chin and was much smarter with his pace, having gassed badly in the first fight after he went headhunting. McGregor earned two 48-47’s with one judge calling it a draw, avenging his loss four months earlier.

2. ‘Precision beats power, and timing beats speed’

UFC 194 December 2015 – Knocked out Jose Aldo in 12 seconds to win the UFC featherweight title.

The stunning 12-second knockout of Jose Aldo was the culmination of a year-long campaign of psychological destruction of the Brazilian. Though he was unbeaten for 10 years, McGregor showed no fear of the featherweight phenomenon that was Aldo. Taking every chance to get under his skin, Aldo was beaten before the first strike and it didn’t take many, McGregor landing a picture perfect left to send Aldo crashing to the canvas. His ‘Mystic Mac’ persona was further cemented, with McGregor saying pre-fight he believed Aldo would swing wildly, and he’d catch him with the counter. Just over two years in the promotion and McGregor was a UFC champion.

1. ‘The double champ does what the f*** he wants!’

UFC 205 November 2016 – TKO’s Eddie Alvarez to win the UFC lightweight title and the first two division champion in UFC history.

One belt wasn’t enough for the Notorious and he quickly set his sights on making more history. After his back to back bouts with Diaz, McGregor met the ‘Underground King’ Eddie Alvarez at Madison Square Garden. What preceded was one of the greatest displays of striking as the Irishman dominated the champion from the first bell, illustrating his sensational stand up as he evaded Eddie’s offence while landing vicious counters. A clean body kick and crisp combination three minutes into the second round saw a second strap on McGregor’s shoulder, the first fighter to hold two belts simultaneously. This was McGregor’s magnum opus.

Conor McGregor celebrates winning the lightweight title.

The Lows

5. ‘Ye and your man’s barred’

Dublin Bar April 2019 – Sucker punches an elderly man who refused to accept a drink of McGregor’s Whisky.

Not the first instance of McGregor caught on camera abusing the public but easily the worst. From smashing cellphones to punching DJs, McGregor’s antics outside of the cage began to dominate headlines. Having ventured into the alcohol business, McGregor was handing out glasses of ‘Proper Twelve’ to patrons in a bar when one man declined. McGregor took the move as a personal insult and unleashed a left hook square to the side of the man’s head, though he barely flinched. In the ultimate petty move, McGregor then bought the pub and barred the old man, taking to Twitter to taunt him and the former owners.

4. ‘I lost it and overreacted’

Bellator 187 November 2017 – Enters cage and confronts referee.

Even when in attendance at other promotions McGregor was courting controversy. During this Bellator event involving teammate Charlie Ward in 2017, veteran referee Marc Goddard appeared to step in to stop the fight after a knockdown by Ward. McGregor dived into the cage to celebrate but was told to leave as Goddard needed to check if the bell sounded before his intervention. Much like with the whisky incident, McGregor reacted in petulant fashion and pushed Goddard in the back while verbally abusing him, causing a scuffle to ensue. He later wrote on Twitter that he “let my emotions get the best of me.”

3. ‘You don’t get away with being inactive in this business’

UFC 257 January 2021 – Knocked out by Dustin Poirier in round two.

Though he was respectful in the lead-up, the loss to Poirier in Abu Dhabi marked the first time he had been knocked out, and subsequently the return of the vociferous version of McGregor. A year on from his demolition of Cowboy Cerrone, McGregor met an opponent from his past whom he had easily dispatched by TKO in 2014. However, the Diamond was a different beast in 2021, reversing the result as he landed several blows to knock the Notorious out in round two.

2. ‘Your wife’s a towel mate’

UFC 229 October 2018 – Lost to Khabib Nurmagomedov via fourth round neck crank.

This was when we saw the first real signs of just how ugly Conor could get. Things got personal when McGregor attacked a bus with Nurmagomedov on it, hurling a dolly at the window and injuring several other fighters. He disparaged the Dagestani’s religion, family and country. Inside the cage, McGregor was dealt a harsh lesson, eventually tapping out to a neck crank in the fourth. McGregor’s vile insults were the catalyst for Nurmagomedov jumping the cage and sparking a brawl between the two fighter’s camps. Following the loss, McGregor made several excuses including the much ridiculed ‘my foot was a balloon,’ and showed no respect to Khabib, tweeting about his wife over a year after the fight.

1. ‘Your wife is in me DM’s’

UFC 284 July 2021 – Loses trilogy with Poirier via doctor stoppage after snapping his leg.

McGregor fell backwards on a snapped tibia and fibula when he landed at rock bottom. Exchanging barbs before their trilogy bout, McGregor’s historically sharp wit was nowhere to be seen, appearing broken and bitter. Poirier pointed out at the press conference that the trash talk from McGregor used to be a lot better, while Conor’s attempt at starting a crowd chant of “Joeline’s wife,” directed towards the Diamond, was met with the collective cringe of the MMA community. Come fight night, Poirier once again was picking apart McGregor before his forward pressure forced McGregor to take a backward step, one which snapped his leg in two, resulting in another TKO loss. Mystic Mac’s predictions were now also off the mark, as while he rightly foresaw a fighter leaving the arena in a stretcher, it was McGregor being carried from the cage. In a bid to save face, he would spew more vitriol on the microphone at Poirier and more classless attacks on a fighter’s wife. It was a sad sight to see the once untouchable force, screaming death threats to a man who had now beaten him twice.

Conor McGregor talks to the press after he pleaded guilty to a single violation of disorderly conduct, in Brooklyn Criminal Court.

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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