Even if you fancy yourself as one of the biggest MMA fans around, it’s highly likely that you didn’t know who Conor McGregor was heading into 2013. I’m being completely honest when I tell that I didn’t know a whole lot about him myself. That was until our very own Sean Sheehan began here at hov-mma/FightBooth.One of Sean’s first articles (it may very well have been his first on this site) was called: Introducing ‘The Notorious’ Conor McGregor, and reading it got me kind of pumped about his upcoming UFC debut against Marcus Brimage. It made me go back and watch his two Cage Warriors title fights from 2012 and it certainly made me believe what everyone in Ireland already knew – this kid had special sort of aura bout him. Then I went on with my life and didn’t think much of it again until that aforementioned fight in April.
Fast forward to today, less than a full year later. Everyone knows Conor McGregor’s name. He hasn’t won any championships in the UFC, let alone even fought in a #1 contenders bout, but he certainly has become one of the hottest names in the business. He has a knack for showing up in the headlines, even when he isn’t fighting, and he is now beyond rock star status in Ireland. UFC President Dana White made it no secret that he may have even developed a bit of a crush on the young and dapper Irishman during the Summer weeks leading up to the Boston show. Well, all of that is fine and good, but how did he fare as a featherweight since being signed to the UFC?
It only took McGregor 97 seconds to dispose of Marcus Brimage in his UFC debut in Sweden. It wasn’t just the barrage of uppercuts and quick combos that led to the eventual demise of his opponent that impressed us, it was that swagger (sorry, I had to use that word) he had about him during the full duration of the fight. If McGregor had any nerves, any of those octagon butterflies fighters talk about during their debuts, he certainly didn’t show them.
After campaigning hard for a spot on the UFC’s FOX Sports 1 debut in Boston, the company would eventually cave to McGregor’s wishes and pit him against another young up and comer in the form of the ‘Blessed’ Hawaiian, Max Holloway. Having finished the first 15 opponents of his career and never having gone past the 2nd round, this fight would prove to be a test for the 25-year-old from Dublin, and pass it he would.
He’d take home a hard fought unanimous decision victory, one that we’d find out later on was won despite having suffered a torn ACL during the contest. Although this injury is keeping McGregor out of the cage for what could be up to ten months, it certainly hasn’t kept him out of the headlines. The ‘Notorious’ one was even Ireland’s most Googled sportsperson in 2013.
If I had to use one word to describe McGregor’s debut year as a member of the UFC, I’d simply say it was loud. He was like that new transfer in high school that just crashed the party and made everyone fall in love with him. It’s been rumored that McGregor could return to combat ahead of schedule, as early as May of 2014. If that’s the case, expect to see him blow the roof off the O2 in Dublin when the UFC arrives there for the first time since 2009.
Honorable Mention – Brandon Thatch