Conor McGregor: Taking Hold of the Spotlight
Conor McGregor…how does he do it? A man that has changed the game in two years, it is phenomenal and insane at the same time. A kid from cage warriors who talked enough to get attention. And once the spotlight hit him, he caught it with razor focus and never let it leave.
He went into the Mendes fight knocked up and was dominated on the ground all the while still managing to KNOCK CHAD MENDES OUT! It still seems surreal.
McGregor has gone to such heights that it is now very rare that I go to a local bar or event and not hear his name be mentioned or see some of his merchandise on show. We, the Irish public, treat McGregor to the kind of treatment only reserved for a National team. Doing incredibly well or possibly Katie Taylor when she went for Olympic Gold.
Ireland rows in behind one of their own and while there will always be detractors the supporters and well-wishers far outnumber these few. The support for Conor McGregor has gone from being a few online followers who saw him rise through the ranks to millions both inside Ireland and outside. He is the biggest sports star in Ireland at the moment and he has yet to reach his peak.
What Happened at UFC 189
I have always been proud of my ability to put the fan aside and look at McGregor as I would any other fighter. This was somewhat lost among the landslide of emotions after his magical win at 189. Now that the fog of war has faded and the adrenaline has simmered down. It is time to address the serious implications of the fight and the outcome.
If my opinion on the fight was sought before the night my answer was similar to many others. McGregor has to avoid the power shots of Chad all the while tagging Mendes at every chance. Then he has to avoid the takedown attempts and if he does get taken down he has to pop up lightning quick, ala Chuck Liddell, and tag Chad again.
Now going off this, Conor failed at everything except his awesome ability to find Mendes chin from all angles. Conor took some big shots off Mendes and while it proves his chin is rock solid it is not ideal. No fighter is invincible and so far in his UFC career, he has been tagged by almost everyone he has fought.
Conor was dominated in this fight for the first two rounds and realistically won the fight due to a Chad Mendes mistake. Of course, he was winning the stand-up exchanges and even though Chad made a mistake. Conor McGregor had to be talented enough to capitalize on it.
It might be hard to take but it is the fighter who can decide where the fight takes place that wins 90% of the time and this time Conor was in the 10%. This might be due to Chad’s gas tank not being there because of his short camp. Or because Conor’s lightning-quick kicks to Chad’s midsection were slowing the American down. With some arguing that Mendes was not the same after a massive kick landed after 30 seconds.
Chad Mendes Using His Wrestling To Get The Win
Even so, after only 1 and a half rounds it was clear Chad had the ability to wrestle that fight to a victory. Mendes judging by the sheer amount of times he referenced his mistake after the fight. Is surely livid with himself for attempting the submission with time ticking away in the second.
Because if he did not, with Conor’s inability to put Chad in danger from his back (possibly because of injury). The round would have ended with Mendes 2 up and in firm control.
The fact Conor managed to win after everything that could go wrong did is just a glimpse into how powerful the mind-set of the Irish Champion. Add this to the fact Conor went into the fight with a severe injury. And could not practice wrestling for the entire camp makes McGregor’s win all the more impressive.
Describing Conor McGregor as a warrior does not do him justice, the man is a behemoth. His self-belief could possibly be his biggest weapon. Knowing he could not wrestle and still taking the Mendes fight is the bravest move by a fighter arguably in UFC history.
The upside to Conor being injured and not being able to grapple. Means we still do not know how good his wrestling defence is or just how dangerous he is off his back. This could be a huge problem for Frankie Edgar who, going by his latest tweets, thinks Conor is easy money on the ground.
Conor showcased ice-cold composure and deadly accurate stand-up to get the win against Mendes. And these two things will definitely make Champ Jose Aldo think long and hard about the puzzle that is McGregor. On the flip-side of this Frankie Edgar must-see Conor as an incredibly winnable fight for someone with his skill-set.
McGregor has the time to heal up and he embarks on a stint at an Ultimate Fighter coach against Urijah Faber. With the next biggest card being the end of year card around January. This could be when we see Conor finally face off against Aldo in a fight that has all the makings of an instant classic.
Images courtesy of fansided.com & ESPNCDN.com