Surprise, surprise, the king is back!
UFC superstar Conor McGregor has returned to the spotlight as he’s slated to coach opposite Michael Chandler on The Ultimate Fighter Season 31. Ideally, these two heavy hitters will share the Octagon at the end of the season, when McGregor is expected to be a slight favorite (-120 odds) over “Iron Mike.”
But with McGregor’s impending return on the horizon, now is a perfect time to dive deeper into what makes “Mystic Mac” a walking, talking legend. Here are Conor McGregor’s greatest moments.
McGregor Folds Jose Aldo To Win Featherweight Gold
This is arguably the most famous knockout in UFC history. The punch itself is a thing of beauty, with McGregor stepping back and drilling a check hook just 13 seconds into the fight, but it’s the pomp around this UFC 194 super-bout that made the Irishman’s victory extra special.
This was 2015, McGregor’s peak days as a trash-talking tormentor, and he never let Aldo off the hook. “The Notorious” insulted Aldo’s stature, his home country of Brazil, and even snatched his belt from him in pre-fight press conferences. McGregor talked the talk and then backed it up with the quickest finish in UFC title fight history.
McGregor Avenges His Loss To Nate Diaz
It’s a tragedy we never saw the trilogy to this fight. Instead, Nate Diaz is out of the UFC and apparently boxing Jake Paul – quite the fall from grace.
When Diaz defeated McGregor at UFC 196 in 2016 as a +350 underdog, the MMA world was stunned. The Stockton, California native bashed McGregor early, gassed him out and wrangled him to the ground for a submission. After so much trash talk, Conor had to eat his words and watch one of his worst enemies parade around victorious.
But that wasn’t where the story ended. McGregor is a pupil of discipline and he learned from his mistakes. In the rematch at UFC 202, the Irishman cracked Diaz for two knockdowns within the first two rounds and kept his composure, ultimately grinding out a five-round decision win. It wasn’t his flashiest win, but McGregor showed a lot of heart in the face of adversity.
Mystic Mac Roasts Jeremy Stephens On The Mic
“Who the f—k is that guy?”
In a whole career of foul-mouthed antagonism, McGregor’s searing – and clever – one-liner at UFC 205 stood out among all his other chirps. When a reporter asked Conor who among the fighters on the press conference stage would give him the hardest fight, Jeremy Stephens, a hard-hitting featherweight journeyman, chimed in.
Stephens, quite pleased with his interjection, had no idea McGregor was about to turn him into a meme for years to come.
McGregor Becomes Double Champ, Steals The Show
McGregor’s superstardom reached new heights around UFC 205 in 2016, when, after shutting Stephens up at the presser, he went out and demolished Eddie Alvarez to become the UFC’s lightweight champion. That decisive second-round TKO victory made Conor the UFC’s first simultaneous double champion (he held titles at 145 and 155 pounds).
After the one-way beating, McGregor snatched the mic and made even more history. As company president Dana White strolled into the cage to give McGregor his second belt, Mystic Mac served up more soundbite gold by taking the chance to apologize “to absolutely nobody” and insist the double champ gets to do whatever he wants. Legend.
McGregor Boxes All-Time Great Floyd Mayweather
Few athletes can transcend their own sport to the point where they can switch to a different discipline and instantly become a fan favorite. In all his grandeur, McGregor accomplished that in 2017, when he made his pro boxing debut versus Floyd Mayweather.
The fight was one thing – McGregor held his own but gassed out for a 10th-round TKO loss – but the media tour leading up to the bout was even greater. The Mayweather-McGregor duo made publicity stops in Los Angeles, Toronto, Brooklyn and London as they argued back and forth and hyped up their fight. By the time it was over, the fight had reportedly raked in 4.3 million pay-per-view purchases, placing it second all-time only to Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao in 2015.
Mayweather reportedly was guaranteed $100 million from the fight, while McGregor netted $30 million – some nice scores for two combat sports stars.