Conor McGregor: The One and Only?

If you haven’t said it yourself, you will have heard the phrase ‘He’s the next Conor McGregor’. Ian Garry, Paddy Pimblett, Payton Talbott, Khamzat Chimaev. The list goes on. Each possesses some level of what Conor has in abundance: Aura. However, Is the ageless adage true? Often Imitated, never replicated. 

Let’s start with some statistics: 22-6 professional MMA record, 9 UFC PPV main events, 8 of which are in UFC history’s top 10 biggest buy rates. He is a Multi-divisional UFC champion who ESPN, Fox Sports, MMA Fighting, MMA Junkie and Sherdog all included in their Fighter of the Year commendations throughout his tenure. Outside of MMA his accolades do not stop, amongst the 25 hottest sex symbols of 2015 in Rolling Stone, ranked in the 2017 top 100 most influential people in Time magazine and to finish the list, fought the biggest name in contemporary boxing Floyd Mayweather. Based on the above, it seems impossible for any fighter to ever match this legendary resume. Does this mean that people are pre-emptively trying to fill the void that will ultimately be left upon Conor’s eventual retirement?

The reason that McGregor has such a following may not necessarily be his accomplishments, but rather his uniqueness. Upon his 2013 UFC debut, the landscape of MMA looked very different from its present-day counterpart. Demetrious Johnson, Jose Aldo, George St-Pierre and Anderson Silva were all champions during this period. These 4 fighters are without refute amongst the greatest to have ever stepped into the octagon but are known for fighting acumen and ring IQ. Amongst the ranks in 2013 included fighters such as Nick Diaz and Chael Sonnen. Dangerous fighters in their own right but known for their personas and rhetoric rather than their title reigns. 2 groups of fighters on 2 sides of the coin: Fight skill on one side, and persona on the other. Enter Conor McGregor. Fighting out of the then untapped mixed martial arts pool of Ireland with the full package. His first 6 fights would see him claim the scalps of Max Holloway, Dustin Poirier, and Chad Mendes and culminate in the infamous 13-second knockout of potential featherweight GOAT Jose Aldo, and the rest is history.

This aura has gained him a fanbase that has transcended UFC. It would be difficult to find someone who has not heard his name, no matter how much they know of mixed martial arts. Now a whiskey owner, a part owner in BKFC, a clothing brand owner (August McGregor), a pub owner and now a mainstream actor. 

It could be argued that this aura and following could never be extinguished. Unfortunately, Conor has several driving offences, numerous well-documented clashes with fellow fighters at MMA events and a few other potentially career-harming run-ins with the law. Couple this with the fact that he has won 1 fight in the last 7 years, most fighters would have been cut from the roster with this record. However, UFC 303 was announced with Conor as the headline and once again fans gathered in their thousands to pay vast amounts of money to see the fabled Conor McGregor in action. The cheapest seats at UFC 303 were rumoured to be $1500 and some fans posted receipts of over $27,000. 

In conclusion, it does appear that Conor McGregor may in actuality be the One and Only. Love him or hate him, people will pay to watch him, fans will wait with bated breath for his next fight and be patient for as long as it takes. This has never been replicated prior to his debut and only time will tell if this will ever happen again in the UFC, but it doesn’t appear that such a fighter will be arriving any time soon to take up the mantle of ‘The Next Conor McGregor’.

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