Conor McGregor secured a very clean 40-second dismantling of Donald Cerrone at UFC 246. The former two-division champion landed 20 strikes to get the TKO win, without a single strike landing on him.
That in itself is already incredibly impressive, but McGregor says he is more proud of a different accomplishment. By getting this finish in a welterweight bout, it now marks three divisions where the Irishman has secured a KO or TKO.
“I made history here tonight. I set another record,” McGregor boasted following his quick TKO over Cerrone. “I’m the first fighter in UFC history to secure knockout victories — at featherweight, at lightweight, and now welterweight — across three divisions.
“Who has gone up and down divisions, and stopping people like that, with knockout victories? I’m very proud of that accomplishment,” he exclaimed. “The UFC, they can strip fighters, and give other fighters make believe belts in order to replicate my champ-champ status. But they can’t give knockout victories across multiple weight divisions! So there we go again! Etch my name in history one more time!”
While definitely an incredible achievement, is it really the first time in UFC history? Is it a new record?
Well, I guess it depends on how you understood his statement.
If McGregor was very specific and meant first to score (T)KO wins at featherweight, lightweight, and welterweight, then yes he did set a new record. Very few fighters have competed across those three specific weight classes, all inside the UFC, and McGregor is indeed the first to score TKO wins.
Kenny Florian has wins at those three specific divisions, and also fought a fourth in the UFC at middleweight. He has TKO’s at both welterweight and lightweight, but his lone featherweight win was a decision in 2011. BJ Penn won two belts at welterweight and lightweight, but has yet to secure a win at featherweight.
On the other hand, if McGregor meant first in UFC history to get (T)KO victories across three weight divisions; if he’s really asking who has gone up or down three divisions to stop people in a similar manner, then no, there have been a couple to beat him to it.
Regardless of what he meant exactly, this seems like the perfect time to acknowledge some of the fighters who have found similar success carrying over their knockout power and/or finishing acumen across three divisions.
Check out the pretty short and exclusive list:
First KO wins per UFC division:
Light heavyweight: 1998
Belfort bounced around the two heaviest divisions early in his career, where he became a UFC heavyweight tournament champion back at UFC 12, then became the light heavyweight champion in 2004. He then found a lot of success at middleweight, and also earned two UFC middleweight title shots, which he lost to Chris Weidman and Anderson Silva.
He completed a similar three-division KO record to McGregor on August 6, 2011, after he secured a KO over Yoshihiro Akiyama at middleweight.
If we count the weird 195 lb Franklinweight, that could even be four divisions where Belfort has scored knockouts in.
First KO wins per UFC division:
Light heavyweight: 2017
Cannonier is a more recent example of someone scoring knockouts across three divisions. He made his UFC debut as a heavyweight, and fought twice there before dropping down to light heavyweight where he had five bouts. His record on those two divisions are just 3-4, but it’s when he dropped to middleweight where he had a career resurgence.
He completed a similar three-division KO record on November 3, 2018, when he TKO’d David Branch. He then followed up with two more TKOs over Anderson Silva and Jack Hermansson in 2019 to shoot up the rankings and become a bonafide title contender.
First KO wins per UFC division:
After knocking out Cerrone this past weekend, McGregor has now notched knockouts in three different weight divisions. He may not be the first one to do this, but what makes his accomplishment a little different from the other two, is that McGregor started his career at featherweight and went up in weight, not down.
McGregor has already held titles in two-divisions, but if he can manage to get a third undisputed belt, that would be a truly historical moment in the sport.
Here’s a few who found success in multiple divisions, but didn’t quite have the same three-division achievement.
Anthony Pettis: The former UFC lightweight champ has multiple (T)KOs at 155 lbs, and last year, he picked up a knockout at 170 lbs against Stephen Thompson. He also has a finish on his lone featherweight win, but it was a submission, not a knockout.
Kenny Florian: As mentioned above, Florian competed in four UFC divisions during his career. He’s had TKO’s at welterweight and lightweight, but only had a decision win at featherweight. If his TUF 1 bouts counted on his professional record, he would have a similar three-division record, as he TKO’d Chris Leben in a middleweight bout.
Anthony Johnson: “Rumble” has gone up from welterweight all the way to heavyweight, but he technically didn’t get KOs in all those divisions. He got a KO on his welterweight UFC debut in 2007, and a KO at light heavyweight on his second stint in 2014. He’s had catchweight bouts that were technically within middleweight, but I can’t say they count since they were originally scheduled as welterweight bouts. His lone heavyweight bout was a decision win outside the UFC, but maybe Rumble can officially join this club by getting a knockout in his planned heavyweight return this year.
Diego Sanchez: Like Florian, Sanchez fought from middleweight down to even featherweight at one point, but his TKO wins were only from 185 and 170.
B.J. Penn: As mentioned above, he’s a two division UFC champion with KO’s at both 155 and 170, but he has yet to win after multiple tries at featherweight. He has fought and won at much higher weights outside the UFC, but no knockouts.
Rashad Evans: The former light heavyweight champion has fought from heavyweight to middleweight, but his HW knockouts were within TUF, and has yet to win at 185 lbs.
Anderson Silva, Dan Henderson, Gegard Mousasi, Wanderlei Silva, Lyoto Machida, Joe Riggs, many others: There are several who have had various knockouts (or even titles) across three divisions, but not all of them were done in the UFC.
Is there anyone we missed? Chime in on the comments!