In 2013, Conor McGregor made his debut inside the octagon for the UFC. Two years later, McGregor was a household name for the promotion and was drawing record-breaking pay-per-view numbers while doing so. After McGregor defeated the UFC’s 10x featherweight champion, Jose Aldo, via knockout 13 seconds into the first round. Suddenly, the entire world couldn’t help but talk about the man who calls himself, “The Notorious one.” So how exactly did McGregor differentiate himself from the crowd to earn a title shot and becoming, “The Notorious” Conor Mcgregor?
“Dana, 60 g’s baby!”
Is exactly what McGregor yelled to UFC President, Dana White after his first round knockout of Marcus Brimage. A move no fighter before McGregor had ever dared to make. However, new to the scene and with a plethora of potential, McGregor took the spotlight and made himself known amongst UFC fans around the world. Now, every fighter is eager to call out UFC President, Dana White in hopes they too can generate the massive following McGregor built.
A new style of fighting & mental warfare
Karate and Taekwondo fighting styles have been popular fighting styles for years but were rarely utilized in the UFC prior to McGregor’s entrance. When Conor did step into the ring his Karate stance, Taekwondo kicks, and Capoeira movement all mixed in with his years of boxing created confusion for his opponents. McGregor knew his fighting style was something no one in the UFC was prepared for and wasn’t afraid to let the fighters or the world know. Confident his ability to end a fight with a single punch and an 8 fight knockout streak to back up the talk, McGregor began to implement an entirely new obstacle for opponents to prepare for, his trash talk. He humiliated opponents at weigh-ins, press conferences, family dinners and any opportunity given. By aggravating opponents every second of the day and forcing them to emotionally invest in the fight, McGregor was capable of breaking down an opponent’s wall; and once he penetrated the mind he knew the fight was won.
“We are not here to take part. We’re here to take over.”
Twitter is a great tool for any athlete trying to build a brand. You can communicate with fans, hold giveaways and build a solid following by interacting with them and showing some attitude. McGregor, however, used social media as his way to boast about his winnings. The win bonuses in addition to the performance of the night bonuses pushed McGregor into the high life and he wanted everyone to know. From collecting welfare checks one day to earning a $60,000 bonus in one night, McGregor was living good and he wanted his opponents to see it. In his mind, social media was another tool he used to aggravate opponents. He displayed a blue collar fighter who put in ours of countless training and now looks to be in the prime of his career. He had cars, private jets, designer clothing and penthouse suites and he credited it all his powerful left hand and “weak opponents.”
“Precision beat power, and timing beats speed”
Despite only being in the UFC for two short years, McGregor was building a following that
could not be ignored. In just his second fight for the organization, the Dublin-born fighter sent an entire TD Garden arena to its feet upon. The Irishman’s unique fighting style, brash mouth and an incredible amount of confidence were contagious and everyone wanted to see what he would do next. Coming off a massive win against the promising prospect, Max Holloway, McGregor began to set his sites on the UFC’s Featherweight champion, Jose Aldo. Unphased by his first two opponents and hungry to make a name for himself McGregor encouraged Dana White to make him the headliner in his home country of Dublin, Ireland. White and the UFC agreed to make McGregor the main event of the UFC’s Fight Night Dublin. And in true McGregor fashion, he fed off the crowd’s energy and finished Brandao via TKO with less than a minute left in the first round. Undeniably a future featherweight title contender McGregor called out then champion, Jose Aldo. Undefeated in 10 years, Aldo was the UFC’s only featherweight champion ever, making McGregor’s request a bit of a stretch but an interesting one, nonetheless.
Continuing his rise in the featherweight division, McGregor defeated Dustin Poirier and
Dennis Siver in dominating fashion to earn his chance at UFC featherweight gold. Unfortunately, fate had other plans as Aldo pulled out of his bout against McGregor due to injury and forced McGregor to face Chad Mendes for the interim featherweight title. Mendes, a high-level wrestler was expected to end McGregor’s streak with his powerful wrestling, but the Irishman was capable of weathering the storm and finished Mendes’ in the later parts of round two, earning the UFC’s featherweight interim title. In August of 2015, McGregor vs. Aldo finally came to fruition and when the match began it took McGregor all of 13 seconds in the first round to finish what was the greatest featherweight in the world at that time. Finally, a true UFC champion McGregor celebrated his victory but wasted no time making his next move calling out the UFC’s lightweight champion, Rafael Do Anjos. Having already defeated a legend in the sport and setting his eyes on another one, McGregor had officially earned his reputation as “The Notorious One.” No one could deny his talent after defeating Aldo, but the real test came against Nate Diaz. Diaz, a lanky, rough, southpaw from Stockton, California was McGregor’s ultimate test. Diaz won the first fight via submission but looked defeated in the first round. McGregor, unable to accept the loss, made it clear over social media that he was coming for his revenge, which he earned the night of UFC 202. Currently the face of fighting and coming off a spectacular come from behind victory against Nate Diaz, McGregor was the self proclaimed king of the UFC and like any king he took his snatched the crown of fellow UFC fighter and former lightweight champion, Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205. After defeating Alvarez in stunning fashion, McGregor made UFC history as the only fighter to ever hold world titles in two separate weight classes at the same time. And at that moment, with a belt on each shoulder, Conor McGregor truly became “The Notorious One.”