Conor McGregor is the biggest star in the UFC. The Irishman is the biggest PPV star in the history of MMA, having headlined five out of the Top 6 grossing PPV events in UFC history. He is also the first fighter in UFC history to hold two world titles simultaneously and the first Irish fighter to win a UFC belt.
McGregor has fought just once since 2016. In 2017, he faced boxing legend Floyd Mayweather Jr. in a high-profile boxing match that netted him a rumored $100M. The following year he challenged and lost to Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 246.
Despite the loss, McGregor has gone a long way from being a mere name that Dana White heard inside a pub in Dublin in 2013. He has risen from the ranks to become an all-time great, love or hate him.
Let’s take a look at McGregor’s rise with the biggest bouts of his UFC career:
Marcus Brimage, UFC on Fuel TV 9
This was Conor’s first-ever UFC fight and he wasn’t even on the main card in this event. McGregor’s UFC debut was the 4th bout in the Prelims which was showed live via Facebook. Brimage had won four straight bouts and carried a 6-1 record to this fight. McGregor was the former Cage Warriors featherweight and lightweight champion who vacated his belts to fight inside the octagon.
Well, the Notorious didn’t waste much time announcing his arrival. The Irishman evaded Brimage’s early onslaught then after a minute into round one, he landed several uppercuts that hurt and dropped Brimage. The end came at 1:07 of round one and McGregor earned his first Knockout of the Night award.
Max Holloway, UFC Fight Night 26
After beating Marcus Brimage, Conor McGregor’s next fight was against 21-year old Max Holloway who had a 7-2 record and was coming off a loss to Dennis Bermudez. Again, the fight was in the Prelims undercard and this time, McGregor displayed that he could go the distance against a future UFC champion.
Holloway would later say that he was still very young and raw during that fight. But remember that Blessed won 13 straight bouts after that loss so, he was already very good back then. Regardless, McGregor displayed his impressive striking skills against Holloway proved that his win over Brimage was no fluke.
Diego Brandao, UFC Fight Night 46
McGregor had caught the public’s interest after two UFC wins. He was a guy that possessed the charisma that only the great ones possess. McGregor had the gift of gab that made him a fan-favorite and the new apple of Dana White’s eye. For his third bout, he headlined UFC Fight Night 46 in Ireland and it was another quick win.
The Irishman faced veteran Diego Brandao in the main event and McGregor wasted no time in displaying his punching and kicking abilities in front of his countrymen. After connecting with several big punches and kicks that got Brandao’s attention, Conor cornered his opponent in the final minute of round one and dropped him with a punch. He rushed in for the kill and earned Performance of the Night honors.
Denis Siver, UFC Fight Night 51
After knocking out Dustin Poirier with a borderline punch that landed on Diamond’s temple, McGregor had his second main event outing against veteran hard-hitter Denis Siver at UFC Fight Night 51. Siver entered the fight with just one win in his last four bouts but was coming off a Fight of the Night victory over Charles Rosa.
Siver survived round one and McGregor went past the first round for only the second time in five UFC bouts. But the Irishman’s striking was already very dominant in Round 1 and Siver was already bloodied up entering round two. McGregor was patient and continually hurt Siver with big left hands and uppercuts. Finally, the German dropped after a left straight and McGregor finished him off with a ground and pound attack. Conor jumped out of the cage after the fight and beefed with Jose Aldo.
Chad Mendes, UFC 189
Conor McGregor earned a crack at the interim UFC featherweight belt after defeating Denis Siver. The man that stood between him and his first UFC belt was veteran Chad Mendes who himself was looking for his first UFC gold. The two met at the main event of UFC 189, Conor’s first PPV headliner and the Irishman made good on his promise to “take over, not take part.”
McGregor was talking to Mendes even before the fight began. Then he turned his trash talk to real talk as he knocked out the American inside two rounds. McGregor was able to escape a hold before landing a series of strikes that stopped Mendes cold in his tracks. McGregor won the interim belt and became the first fighter from Ireland to win UFC gold.
Jose Aldo, UFC 194
After Aldo pulled out of UFC 189 due to injury, the two best featherweights in the UFC finally met at UFC 194 in December 2015. McGregor had been calling out Aldo several times during the year and in 2014 and after winning the interim belt at UFC 189, he was looking to become the undisputed champion.
Junior was the first UFC featherweight champion and he had made nine successful title defenses ( WEC and UFC ) prior to this fight. McGregor though was not to be denied of his place in history as he dropped Aldo with his second punch of the fight. McGregor knocked out Aldo in 13 seconds to become the undisputed champion.
Eddie Alvarez, UFC 205
McGregor fought Nate Diaz twice after beating Jose Aldo. He was submitted in the first bout but won the rematch by unanimous decision. Then McGregor attempted to become the next double-champion in UFC history as he challenged Eddie Alvarez for the UFC lightweight title at UFC 205, the first UFC event in New York.
The Notorious dominated Alvarez from start to finish and was able to drop the champion several times during their short fight. In the second round, McGregor finished off Alvarez to become the first fighter to hold two UFC titles simultaneously. This would be McGregor’s only fight in two years as he set out to fight Floyd Mayweather in a boxing match in 2017.