Whether fans love him or hate him, Conor McGregor is undoubtedly one of the fastest rising athletes in history.
Relatively unknown to the casual fan base when he captured the Cage Warriors featherweight and lightweight titles in 2012, Conor McGregor burst onto the scene when he made his UFC debut against Marcus Brimage in 2013.
Outclassing and TKO’ing Brimage with a volley of uppercuts in the first round, ‘The Notorious’ went on to win five straight before challenging featherweight legend Jose Aldo for the title at UFC 194.
That’s when McGregor’s popularity skyrocketed, as the Irishman knocked out ‘Scarface’ in a record breaking 13-seconds and announced that he would be moving up to conquer the lightweight division.
Two epic fights later -- McGregor lost to Nate Diaz in a welterweight scrap at UFC 196 but came back to win the rematch at UFC 202 -- and the Dubliner outclassed Eddie Alvarez to win the lightweight belt and become the first simultaneous two-division champion in the promotion’s history.
McGregor then shocked the world by pursuing a boxing superfight with none other than Floyd Mayweather Jr., who is one of the greatest boxers ever to lace up the gloves.
Despite all odds the fight was booked and McGregor, 29, put up a good fight against ‘The Best Ever’ before being overwhelmed with a barrage of punches in the 10th round.
Longtime UFC commentator Joe Rogan, who has called most of McGregor’s fights, believes the SBG Ireland product is a once in a life time talent and doesn’t think fans will see another fighter quite like him in the UFC.
“You’re never gonna see another one like him because he’s a unique person,” Joe Rogan told Russell Brand on the most recent edition of his podcast, per MMA Fighting’s Jed Meshew. “He’s literally being himself. You’re gonna see a bunch of people try to mimic that and in a sense, he sort of mimicked the people who came before him, like the Chael Sonnens and the Muhammad Alis and the people that were really good at talking s**t. The difference is, what Conor’s been able to do is he’s the first guy in the UFC that’s been able to do that, that’s had spectacular results, and also showed his real character in losing and then coming back and winning very quickly afterwards against the same guy - the Nate Diaz fight. That was a very important character exposing fight because he lost a fight, he got humbled, and then he jumped right back on the horse and then wound up winning. Then he comes back and blows Eddie Alvarez out of the water to become the first two-division, concurrent champion in the sport.
“I think he’s a unique guy in a very - it’s almost like we don’t have a word strong enough [to describe him]. Unique isn’t a strong enough word... He’s got brilliant ability. He’s incredibly smart. He’s very innovative in his techniques and his approaches and I think he has phenomenal coaching as well.
Rogan, who believes McGregor is ‘an extraordinary person’, thinks a trilogy fight with Nate Diaz will be the biggest fight in UFC history.
“His next fight in the UFC, whoever it will be, will be probably the biggest fight in UFC history, especially if it’s Nate Diaz because Nate Diaz is a huge name If Nate Diaz and him decide to do it one more time I think that will be the biggest fight ever in the history of the sport because I think Conor has eclipsed the sport, largely.
“He’s the biggest combat sport athlete not just of today, but ever. There’s no one like him.”
Although many remain skeptical of McGregor’s future in MMA, the multi-division champ has promised to return to the Octagon to defend his lightweight title and legitimize the UFC rankings.