UFC 205: Conor McGregor is Good, But Nothing Special

Conor McGregor made history at UFC 205 as the first fighter to ever to be the champion of two separate weight classes at the same time.

That said, “The Notorious” Conor McGregor is nothing special. Yes, he did literally just make history. Yes, his pay per view numbers are through the roof. Yes, he is a really good fighter. The man is good at what he does. While Conor McGregor is the biggest asset the UFC has, he is nothing special compared to what other fighters in the UFC have done and are capable of.

First let’s start with McGregor’s path to the top of the world. Before talking his way to a title shot, McGregor held knockout wins over Marcus Brimage, Diego Brandao, Dustin Poirier, and Dennis Siver. In addition he holds a decision victory over Max Holloway.

Riding a five-fight win streak against no names to write home about (this was before Holloway became a force at featherweight) Conor McGregor was granted a title shot in a top-heavy featherweight division. Less than two weeks before the fight, the champion, Jose Aldo, backed out due to injury. McGregor was given his choice of fighters to replace Aldo for the interim featherweight belt. Conor McGregor hand picked one of the only fighters in the top-five that was not currently training, Chad Mendes. As you know McGregor knocked him out in the second round and the Irish takeover began on July 11, 2015, at UFC 189.

The unification bout between McGregor and Aldo was set for December 12, 2015, at UFC 194. This time Aldo made it all the way through the camp and showed up to the fight healthy. It was all for naught as Conor McGregor knocked Jose Aldo out in 13 short seconds. This is the first time the world was truly in the palm of McGregor’s hand.

Conor McGregor holds two undisputed, albeit controversial  (Mendes’ short camp, Aldo’s fight ending before it began), wins and now finds himself as the champion of the 145-pound division. What was his first move as champion? Immediate rematch with Aldo? Defend his belt against a different top-five opponent on a full camp? None of those things. Instead he used his power and pull to challenge then-champion Rafael dos Anjos in a lightweight title fight on March 5, 2016, at UFC 196.

Once again, just like UFC 189, after talking his way into a title fight, McGregor’s opponent drops out of the fight due to injuries. Who does Conor hand-pick to fight? Perennial bottom half of the top-10 fighter Nate Diaz. McGregor also chose to fight at 170 instead of 155. Regardless of weight, Nate Diaz choked Conor McGregor out on 10-days notice. This sparked an unnecessary rivalry between the two fighters.

In his next fight, Conor McGregor decided to call out Nate Diaz and the two were slated to headline UFC 200. Due to McGregor’s cockiness and lack of desire to show up to press conferences, the fight was called off. It was promptly rescheduled for UFC 202 on August 20, 2016. This fight should have never been booked to begin with. Aside from a monetary gain for the UFC, this fight served absolutely no purpose. McGregor won the featherweight belt in December and hasn’t even attempted to defend it. Regardless, McGregor won by majority decision.

UFC 205 is looming, the first UFC event hosted at the prestigious Madison Square Garden. Conor McGregor is slated to challenge Eddie Alvarez for the lightweight belt. For the second time in his career, McGregor tried to hold two belts simultaneously.

Since defeating Chad Mendes for the interim belt, Conor McGregor has done nothing for his legacy as the featherweight champ. He has been extremely selfish since winning the belt. He only has three “big” wins in his career: Mendes on short to no camp, Aldo with a freak knockout, and Alvarez for the lightweight belt. Don’t get me wrong, McGregor is a good fighter. His striking is superb and he absolutely outclassed Eddie Alvarez for the belt. I just fail to see him as the elite fighter that others view him as.

Conor McGregor’s mouth paired with a cult-like society of people that sit on the edge of their seat every time the Irishman gets his hands on a microphone are the reasons McGregor is where he is today. What he’s done is impressive and he should be applauded for being able to do what he does, but there are better fighters in the UFC who deserve what he has but are unable to do so for one reason or another.

The first fighter that comes to mind is the man Mystic Mac dethroned at UFC 194, Jose Aldo. Jose Aldo was undefeated for a decade before losing to McGregor. Not to mention it was barely considered a fight as McGregor finished him in 13 seconds. Leading up to that fight Jose Aldo was considered one of, if not the, pound-for-pound best fighter in the UFC.

What Jose Aldo has done in literally every fight with the exception of the McGregor bout is incredible. Aldo holds marquee wins over Chad Mendes (twice), Frankie Edgar (twice), Chan Sung Jung, and Urijah Faber (WEC). A lot more impressive than the wins that Conor McGregor strung together.

That win streak and level of utter dominance is something special. It is also something that gets overlooked when Aldo is compared to McGregor due to the fact that McGregor holds a knockout win over the Brazilian. It should be noted that McGregor has been ducking Aldo since winning the belt almost a year ago. After watching the clinic that Jose Aldo put on Frankie Edgar at UFC 200, Aldo would undoubtedly beat McGregor in a rematch. Until the day it actually happens, the world will never know.

Another fighter that should be recognized for doing something special is Dominick Cruz. Dominick Cruz has yet to lose in the UFC and avenged his only career loss, twice. He never actually lost his belt but won it back after beating TJ Dillashaw by split decision.

Like Jose Aldo, Cruz has an impressive list of notable wins including TJ Dillashaw, Urijah Faber (twice), Demetrious Johnson, and Joseph Benavidez (twice in the WEC). Dominick Cruz was forced to vacate the bantamweight belt in July of 2012 due to a litany of injuries. He came back in 2014 with a knockout win over Takeya Mizugaki and then didn’t fight again until his split decision victory over TJ Dillashaw in January 2016 due to more injuries.

That level of perseverance, determination, and dominance is something special. Conor McGregor choosing to do selfish things and chase history in lieu of defending the featherweight belt that he carries everywhere is not nearly as special or impressive as what Cruz has done.

At the end of the day, Conor McGregor made history at UFC 205. He became the first fighter to ever hold two belts simultaneously. Which has it’s pros and cons. If he loses one belt he’ll have the other to fall back on. He’ll need to put one on the line in his next fight, hopefully it’s the featherweight one.

Conor McGregor is nothing special, he’s a strong fighter (he has some of the best striking in the promotion alongside Stephen Thompson and Joanna Jedrzejczyk) coupled with the loudest of mouths and a fan base that eats up everything he says. This makes him the most influential person in mixed martial arts. His mouth is what got him where he is today but his accomplishments are minimal compared to other fighters in the UFC. It’s great that he has two belts, but I doubt he holds on to both for an extended period of time.