Conor McGregor: Notoriously Misunderstood

Conor McGregor sure hasn’t been a shy, public figure in the media lately. In case you have been living under a rock for the past few weeks, the current UFC Lightweight Champion has appeared in several headlines for becoming Floyd “Money” Mayweather’s next opponent for the historic match that is set to take place on August 26th. This bout will be McGregor’s official boxing debut against arguably one of the greatest boxers to ever strap on a pair of gloves in Floyd Mayweather. It’s safe to recognize McGregor as a heavy underdog in this contest as he will attempt to be the first person to hand Mayweather his first blemish in the boxing ring as he currently stands with an impressive record of 49-0.

Growing up, I became an avid fan of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). At an early age, fighters like Chuck Liddell, Matt Hughes, George St. Pierre, and Randy Couture became some of my favorite athletes. These legendary competitors set the bar by producing some of the greatest bouts in combat sports. The hard work, passion, and competitive hunger that these fighters displayed in and out of the octagon played a major inspiration in my life. While I was never intrigued to pursue a career in mixed martial arts, I was inspired to utilize the same work ethic and ambition to acquire success with every endeavor that I encounter. Like myself, McGregor also grew to admire these same fighters that transcended the sport of fighting. Also inspired by their work ethic, passion, and ambition, McGregor decided to pursue a career as a professional mixed martial artist by the age of 18.

In 2008, McGregor began his career as a professional cage fighter. In his first 6 contests, McGregor occupied a 4-2 fight record. After suffering his second submission loss, McGregor would go on to accomplish an eight-fight win streak where he would capture the Cage Warriors Lightweight and Featherweight Championships in simultaneous fashion. Capturing these titles allowed McGregor to become the first European professional MMA fighter to hold simultaneous titles in 2 different weight divisions.

Heavily impressed by McGregor’s success allowed the Irish-born Mixed Martial Artist to score a professional contract offer with the UFC by the brand’s President, Dana White and CEO, Lorenzo Fortitta in 2013. McGregor quickly vanquished the CWFC Championships to make his entrance on the biggest stage in full combat sports.

As only the second UFC professional from Ireland, McGregor made his debut in a UFC octagon on April 6th 2013 against Marcus Brimage. McGregor picked up his first victory with the brand in exciting fashion via Technical Knock Out (TKO) of Brimage in just over a minute during the first round of the contest. The quick victory became a great addition to McGregor’s already impressive, fighting résumé. This victory extended McGregor’s professional record to 13 wins out of 15 major bouts.

It didn’t take long for McGregor to claim a new collection of victories in the UFC promotion. Months after his debut against Brimage, McGregor was back in the octagon in August of 2013 to face Max Holloway in a classic featherweight contest. Once again, McGregor came out on top, only this time earning the victory based on a Unanimous Decision, which was his first bout to not end in a finishing manner.

In 2014, McGregor continued showing signs of improvement as an employee of the UFC. After his decision-win against Holloway, McGregor collected a pattern of TKO victories in his next 3 fights against Diego Brandao, Dustin Poirier, and Dennis Silver. By 2015, McGregor had become one of the biggest stars in fighting and quickly ascended to the main event and championship title pictures. At UFC 189, McGregor made his pay-per-view debut against Chad Mendes in July of 2015 for the interim UFC Featherweight Championship. In the second round of the fight, McGregor achieved his first KO victory as a UFC competitor, which allowed him to earn the prized title against Mendes.

After picking up a championship win against Mendes, McGregor was rewarded with his greatest opportunity as a combat fighter. By the end of 2015, McGregor found himself in the main event picture once again, only to fight the most legendary Featherweight in UFC history in Jose Aldo for the Unified Featherweight Championship. At the UFC 194 PPV, McGregor cemented himself as the biggest star in the brand by defeating Aldo with an iconic, one-punch knockout in the first 13 seconds of the fight. McGregor’s victory ended Aldo’s eighteen-fight win streak and five-year Featherweight Title reign. McGregor handed Aldo only his second professional defeat in nearly 30 bouts. This was Aldo’s first loss in over a decade and first KO defeat. The loss for Aldo would extend McGregor’s win streak to 15, bringing his professional record to 19-2.

McGregor’s victory against Aldo solidified himself as the biggest name in professional fighting. Riding confidently after his extraordinary come up in the UFC organization, McGregor chose to embrace a new test in his professional fighting career. At the turn of the year in 2016, McGregor initiated a challenge to face Nate Diaz at the UFC 196 PPV. Fighting out of his Featherweight division would pose difficulty for the Irish-born scrapper as he would have to gain 25 pounds to face the bigger Diaz at 170 lbs. While McGregor wasn’t used to competing in this weight division, he made the adjustment to gain the weight without hesitation.

Both South Paw specialists were expected to put on an exciting fight display during their Welterweight bout in March of 2016. Still with the momentum in his favor, McGregor reigned as the favorite against the talented, Nate Diaz. Both fighters put on impressive showing early on in the fight, but fighting out of his regular weight class ended up catching up to McGregor as he would fall to Nate Diaz at the end of the second round of the contest via submission. The defeat would be McGregor’s 3rd professional loss and first in the UFC.

Stunned by the defeat, McGregor was determined to avenge the loss and would soon initiate a rematch against Diaz later that year. Both fighters were not hesitant to grow their rivalry publicly. The two fighters commonly exchanged insults and threats while also partaking in heated antics during live press conferences and weigh in ceremonies, which included water bottle tosses and physical confrontations. With so much hype built into this rematch, spectators were excited to see these two South Paw forces clash once again.

On August 20, 2016, Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz finally squared off in the anticipated rematch at the UFC 202 PPV. The match was nothing short of a classic, as both competitors produced one of the greatest fights that I have ever personally witnessed. After bulking up in weight to face Diaz at 170 pounds again, McGregor would provide an exciting performance to avenge his only loss in the UFC against what many may consider to be his greatest fight rival of his career. With a heavy display of blood, heart, and hard-hitting action, the fight ended in a five-round majority decision. This time McGregor stood as the victor over Diaz.

Shortly after avenging Diaz, McGregor was placed in action once again. He continued to fight out his regular weight division and decided to target the UFC Lightweight Championship. With his eyes on more gold, McGregor squared off with Eddie Alvarez at the UFC 205 PPV. McGregor made short work of his opponent into the second round of the UFC main event, as he finished Alvarez with a TKO through a flurry of heavy punches. This victory rewarded McGregor with the UFC Lightweight title, allowing him to create history by becoming the only fighter in UFC history to simultaneously hold dual championships in different weight divisions. Now with a professional record of 21-3, which included 19 finishes; Conor McGregor supremely reigned as “The Double Champ.”

To date, “The Notorious” McGregor reigns as the biggest star of the UFC as he has emerged as brand’s greatest attraction, while transcending himself as one of the most talented fighters of many eras. As a fighter, McGregor is one of the most skilled, driven, and talented athletes in all of sports, but he is certainly much more than just an in-ring specialist. Conor McGregor possesses a keen ability to entertain. He is a terrific showman that successfully keeps eyes peeled with his exciting microphone skills, unpredictable antics, and unwavering confidence.

Despite being one of the most exciting characters in sports, audiences are commonly turned off by McGregor as a public figure. His celebrity status has certainly picked up over the past few years, as many compare the fighter to a “diva.” As one of Forbes’ highest paid athletes, McGregor sure isn’t afraid to show his wealth. He is oftentimes dressed in lavish clothing and boasts about his luxurious jewelry, vehicles, and other accessories that he owns.

To appropriately match McGregor’s fashion sense is his exuberant energy and charisma. An expert trash talker, McGregor doesn’t hesitate to stir the pot by voicing his opinion over any manner that crosses his mind. His victories in the octagon may have won him championship belts, but his fluent skills on the mic have certainly helped McGregor construct a much larger fan base. Whether he’s insulting his opponents at press conferences, or complimenting his own talent, work ethic, skills and career accolades, McGregor radiates with confidence as a performer and as a person.

Sparked by an excessive will to win, McGregor aims to sharpen all aspects of his professional repertoire, which includes trash talking. The “Notorious” showman never fails to stray away from controversy. During his eventful tenure with the UFC, McGregor has enticed some of the brand’s most exciting yet controversial moments. During press conferences, he has made notable late entrances, attempted to throw chairs at the press table, explicitly insulted his opponents, stolen championship title belts, and initiated intense physical confrontations.

Always one to out due himself, McGregor instigated his most memorable display of animation just days before his rematch with Nate Diaz at UFC 202. After showing up to the PPV press conference almost an hour late, McGregor and Diaz instantly exchanged a war of explicit words to one another. Upset by McGregor’s tardiness, and lack of professionalism, Diaz began storming out of the press conference where the two began yelling at one another once again. The enraged McGregor sparked back by infamously chucking water bottles across the auditorium. Two days later, the competitors were at it again as police officers separated them during their powerful weigh in confrontation. The two exchanged violent threats and left audiences excited for their epic showdown that took place the following night.

To say that Conor McGregor is not your typical professional athlete is quite the understatement. His reckless persona and rambunctious spirit keeps audiences amused but leaves UFC executives with headaches. While McGregor’s confident personality and a gifted skillset leaves fans satisfied, it also leaves many to be misunderstood. People mistakenly view his confidence as heavy arrogance. Often the center of attention, McGregor is commonly perceived as offensive, cocky, and spoiled, rather than commended for his exceptional talent.

Though Conor has been involved with his fair share of controversy, he is much more than a cocky, loudmouth celebrity. Yes, he is flashy. Yes, he has the tendency to be arrogant. Yes, he is an instigator. Yes, he is an aggressor. Yes, he craves attention. He may be everything that you think he is. McGregor is a bold superstar that ultimately deserves the criticism he is exposed to. He admires it and uses it as fuel to succeed.

Criticism may be one McGregor’s greatest assets towards success, but it is also used as a tool to remind him the value in hard work, patience, and persistence. McGregor never fails to remember the upbringing that he endured during his journey towards his current success. He was raised on the virtues of dedication, loyalty, and respect and continues to abide by these merits in an almost religious manner.

McGregor developed a passion for combat sports at a very early age. When he started boxing at age 12, McGregor’s dream of becoming a MMA legend commenced. Six years later, McGregor took a leap of faith to chase his dream at the age of 18. Giving up his career as a professional plumber, McGregor decided to trade in his socket wrench for a pair of MMA gloves and dedicated his full attention to fighting. After a year of training with fellow UFC Fighter, Tom Egan, McGregor would begin his professional fighting career at the age of 20.

Young into his fighting career, McGregor scraped by with little to no money, while his girlfriend, Dee Devlin stood by to keep the couple’s financial hopes in tact. After his first few fights, McGregor spent times wallowing with a circle of doubts about his ability to succeed and often considered giving up the profession. With the loyal support of his loved ones, McGregor was motivated to continue pursuing his dream. McGregor would use this humble burden as leverage to create a legacy for himself. Now ten years later, McGregor uses his legacy to provide a successful lifestyle for the pair in order to repay Devlin for her unconditional loyalty and commitment.

With a loyal crowd of supporters at his side, McGregor heartedly treasures the true value of respect. Though his enticing antics and insulting portfolio of trash talk don’t often give that impression, McGregor believes that it’s vital to provide all parties with necessary levels of respect. The tenacious knockout artist rewards respect to his loved ones, to his fans, to his employers, and even to his adversaries. McGregor offers signs of respect to express his gratitude for the reception of support, admiration, opportunities, and competitive challenges that he has been offered throughout his career and personal life.

Following these virtues has helped McGregor accomplish a long range of success. The core competencies of dedication, loyalty, and respect have made a powerful impact on the life of the current Lightweight Champion. As a competitor, McGregor is ‘notoriously’ recognized for his superior set of physical abilities, confident mindset, and a vibrant energy. It’s more than apparent that McGregor battles with aggressive intensity, focus, and proper preparation in attempt to a victory. While this superior combination has helped McGregor earn an accomplished fighting career, it is his impressive sense of humility that truly sets his character apart. McGregor approaches competitions with a deep sense of modesty through an oath to remain “humble in victory or defeat.”

A champion that embraces and adapts to new challenges, McGregor is one to always welcome a new test. Whether it’s defeating legendary fighters, conquering several weight classes, or capturing multiple championships, McGregor is certainly a master of unpredictability. His odds against Mayweather may not be favorable, but as arguably the best pure striker in MMA, he certainly has a “fighting chance.”

There’s truly no telling what the future truly holds for Conor McGregor. Currently as MMA’s greatest asset, fans dream of the bouts that will unfold as his career progresses. He may decide to face Aldo again. He may seek to close the book on his rivalry with Nate Diaz in an epic trilogy conclusion. He may push to clash with legends like George St. Pierre or even Jon “Bones” Jones. He may even gun for contests with rising stars like current UFC Bantamweight Champion, Cody Garbrandt. For the time being though, Conor McGregor will certainly have his hands full as he prepares to face the great, Floyd Mayweather. While many are expecting the Irish superstar to get toyed around by the leader of the “Money Team,” brace yourself for the unexpected. Conor McGregor has made a successful career out of proving audiences wrong and I am certain he will be determined to do the same come August 26th. Win or loss, he can certainly tally this challenge to his long list of impressive professional experiences. As someone who is projected to earn $75 million before endorsement benefits, who’s really qualified to say that he is not a winner anyways?

If you haven’t figured it out by now, I am quite the fan of Conor McGregor. A fighter, a celebrity, and a man full of integrity, “The Notorious” Conor McGregor is one of greatest attractions in sports and even in pop culture. Like him or not, he reigns as one of today’s brightest stars. There’s certainly no denying that he is truly one of a kind. Arrogant, greedy, cocky, and controversial, McGregor may not be one of the best role models, but he is destined to create an impactful legacy with any hand he is dealt with.

An accomplished fighter, loyal fiancé, and now proud father, McGregor continues to prevail as a champion in several categories.

Just barely into the prime of his incredible career, expect to see much more of Conor McGregor for years to come. Expect him to entertain. Expect him to produce spectacles. Expect him to leave audiences mesmerized. Just don’t expect Conor McGregor “to take part.” Be prepared for Conor McGregor “to take over.”

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