Wednesday, March 2, 2016

How Good is Conor McGregor?

My headline question, on the surface, seems ridiculous. How can one doubt the skill level of the UFC featherweight champion who is also undefeated in the organization?

I've had this discussion with many MMA fans and the issue I always have is when do people stop judging him on his performance in the Octagon and start basing their opinions on the narrative Conor and the UFC wants you to believe. The brash, blue collar, Irishman is a perfect archetype in a fight-crazed world.

This car could've bought a lot of potatoes.
Credit: blacksportsonline
However, that is a conversation for a different day. This post is all about critiquing the résumé of the champion. Everyone will point out his 13 second TKO of Jose Aldo, but those same people forget Aldo hadn't fought in over a year and was dealing with multiple injuries. The McGregor fan would then say "he finished the #3 featherweight in less than two rounds only 5 months earlier." That is true, but does anyone remember Mendes won the first round with his superior wrestling and took that fight on only two weeks notice?

The answer is of course not! But don't let these facts stop you from christening him the best pound for pound fighter on the planet. McGregor has taken advantage of favorable matchups, like being given a 36 year old with no ground game in an event built around hyping the Irishman in Boston. Or in his main event debut, when the UFC brought a card to Ireland and handed him a fighter with questionable cardio coming off a loss, just to highlight McGregor to his countrymen.

I give credit to McGregor for making the most of the opportunities given to him, especially this weekend. There is zero downside to fighting Nate Diaz at 170 pounds. If he wins, ridiculous fans and bloggers will begin talking about how he can hold titles in three weight classes but if he loses, the only thing that will be written is how much of a warrior he was for even accepting the fight. The guy is good, but an all-time great? Not even close.... yet.