For a country of around four million people Ireland has a decorated history of fighting. In 1985 Barry McGuigan won the world featherweight title in front of 25,000 people in Loftus Road. At the Barcelona games in 1992, Michael Carruth won the Olympic gold and Wayne McCullogh the Olympic silver for boxing. McCullogh went on to win a professional world title. Two years later Steve Collins became a world champion and stayed one until he retired. In 2009 Bernard Dunne knocked out Ricardo Cordoba to win the WBA Super Bantamweight title and in 2012 Katie Taylor, arguably the greatest female boxer of all time, won gold at the London Olympics. Now Ireland has a new combat star, Dubliner Conor “The Notorious” McGregor.
McGregor is the newest recruit to the UFC’s featherweight division and has been pitted against TUF 14 veteran Marcus “The Bama Beast” Brimage on April 6th in the Ericsson Globe Arena in Stockholm, Sweden. Brimage is a tough durable wrestler out of Birmingham, Alabama who is 3-0 inside the UFC’s octagon, beating highly touted prospect Jimmy Hettes, who was unbeaten at the time, in his last fight.
McGregor, though, has been given a difficult opening bout because of his decorated career so far outside of the UFC. The Leinsterman is the current featherweight and lightweight Cage Warriors world champion. He’s the first man to hold two belts at the same time for the promotion, a feat only equaled by MMA legend Dan Henderson in a major league. Henderson was simultaneously Pride welterweight and middleweight champion. Currently riding a seven fight win streak, McGregor won his lightweight title on New Years Eve knocking out the then 21-3 Ivan Buchinger with a devastating left hook in the first round after a dominant display both on the ground and standing. McGregor holds a record of 11-2 and amazingly all eleven victories have come inside the distance, nine knockouts and two submissions.
“The Notorious” trains out of the up and coming Straight Blast Gym (SBG) in Dublin with the likes of female standout Ais “The Bash” Daly, Cage Warriors welterweight number one contender Cathal Pendred, veteran Owen Roddy and fellow UFC starlet Gunnar “Gunni” Nelson under the tutelage of head coach John Kavanagh.
The 24 year old is as exciting outside the cage as he is in it and lives by the mantra “stay ready so you don’t have to get ready”. His gregarious personality mixed with his success inside the cage has begun to garner Conor a lot of attention with the mainstream media. This week he appeared on TV3 news in Ireland, a first for MMA. McGregor is also due to appear on MTV shortly, he tweeted “Good 2 days with my man @demetriomarquez from @mtv, looking forward to seeing the Documentary!! The man has a passion for this shit!!”.
Make no mistake about it, The UFC is a massive step up for Conor McGregor but overall it looks like the Dubliner is destined for greatness. He is likeable, brash, and extremely talented and will have the support of an entire sports-mad country behind him all the way. His fight with Brimage in just over a month will tell a lot about his position in the UFC but if McGregor can get past this obstacle the sky’s the limit.
This article originally appeared on hov-mma
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