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Conor McGregor: career talking points

Conor McGregor has made plenty of headlines in his career, positive and negative. An immensely talented mixed martial artist, the Irishman is a former UFC Featherweight and Lightweight Champion and has been one of the most successful Irish sportsmen of all time.

McGregor’s career is one marked by highs and lows in and out of the Octagon. There have been plenty of great moments for the Irishman in winning those Championship titles and creating his ‘Notorious’ public image of a sportsman who fights like a champion and parties like one too.

The 31-year-old is back in the public eye once again as he prepares to take on Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone in UFC 246 on January 1

8th in Las Vegas. McGregor hasn’t fought since infamously losing to Khabib Nurmagomedov in UFC 229 in October 2018. The latest Conor McGregor v Donald Cerrone betting odds place the Irishman as the favourite.

It feels like a make-or-break moment in McGregor’s career. Ahead of this latest defining fight, let’s take a look back at some of the big moments of McGregor’s time in the UFC.

April 2013: UFC debut

McGregor signed with the UFC in February 2013 after catching the eye of UFC President Dana White with his performances in his native Ireland. He made his UFC debut two months later against Marcus Brimage at UFC on Fuel TV: Mousasi vs Latifi, winning the fight in round one.

It was a fight that showcased McGregor’s true potential in the sport, as he earned the first ‘Knockout of the Night’ award of his career.

December 2015: lights out for Aldo

This was the fight where McGregor backed up the cockiness and braggadocio of his public persona, as he knocked out Brazilian José Aldo in 13 seconds to win the unified UFC Featherweight title. The win earned McGregor the ‘Performance of the Night’ award in what was the fastest finish in UFC title-fight history.

The bout had generated a lot of publicity in the lead-up to fight night, and many expected McGregor to be taught a lesson by defending champion Aldo. It was the manner of McGregor’s victory that was so impressive, and fully confirmed his credentials as one of the best fighters in the world.  

2016: defeat and redemption

2016 was a year of ups and downs for McGregor. In March he tasted defeat for the first time in his UFC career, losing to American Nate Diaz by TKO in what was McGregor’s welterweight debut.

It looked as though the welterweight division was a step too far for McGregor, but he demonstrated his fierce determination by bouncing back in the rematch between the pair in August. McGregor was fitter, stronger, and more motivated, winning the fight on a majority decision to restore his reputation and once again back up his champion credentials.

October 2018: a dark day

UFC 229 represented McGregor’s return to MMA after more than two years away, in which he had taken on and lost to Floyd Mayweather in a boxing match. The UFC Lightweight title was on the line against Khabib and McGregor gave a disappointing performance, losing by submission in the fourth round.

It was the ugly scenes after the fight that dominated the headlines, as both fighters and their entourages clashed afterwards. It was a difficult moment for McGregor, and it looked like holes were beginning to appear in his once impenetrable armour.

UFC 246 brings the chance for McGregor to reignite his career. Cerrone is an experienced campaigner and will no doubt be a tough opponent after so long away. But these are the kinds of occasions McGregor used to relish earlier in his career, and if he can summon the spirit of those fine victories of days gone by, then we could be in for another vintage performance.