Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebillas, USA TODAY Sports.

Conor McGregor Has Been Ranked the 9th Fittest Athlete in the World… And the Fittest MMA Fighter on the Planet by Sports Illustrated… Obviously, This is Absolute Nonsense, Right?

Say what you like about Conor McGregor. Despite many people suggesting that his biggest attribute is his mouth, the fact is that during his meteoric rise, he was a remarkably efficient and powerful athlete. 7 of his 9 wins came by knockout in the first or second round. He’s gone the distance twice and also been beaten twice by Khabib Nurmagamedov and Nate Diaz.

However, somehow Sports Illustrated has contrived to say that he is the 9th fittest athlete on the planet. Obviously, this is absolute nonsense. He’s not even the fittest MMA fighter. That isn’t in any way suggesting that he doesn’t have talent, or that he’s not in great condition when he fights, but let’s be realistic.

Let’s break down exactly why Sports Illustrated is quite simply just wrong in ranking McGregor above boxing’s ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, World Footballer of the Year Luka Modric, and the Tour De France winner Geraint Thomas.

Conor McGregor with John Kavanagh. Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports.


McGregor’s greatest weapon is also arguably his biggest weakness. He’s famed for his ferocious knockout power and speedy reactions. However, his fast-twitch muscle fibres actually serve to drain his energy as fights enter later stages. Look at both his MMA defeats. It’s easy to forget that he dissected Nate Diaz in round 1 of their first fight. However, he gassed out against the Stockton native and got clipped before he was submitted.

Then against Khabib Nurmagamedov, he didn’t have the conditioning to put it up to the Russian in round four. Sure, he got absolutely brutalized in the second round of the UFC 229 main event. However, he came back in the third but then wilted against the Russian.

Sports Illustrated used McGregor’s transition from MMA to boxing and back to MMA as their justification for his ranking. Yeah, but what happened in that fight against Floyd Mayweather? He gassed himself out and got knocked out.

Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez, USA TODAY Sports.

Fast Twitch Action

Tristar MMA’s head coach Firas Zahabi told Joe Rogan a few months ago:

“If you have a fast-twitch muscle fiber, you can hold less oxygen, but it can twitch faster. Hence the name. So, if you’re a slow-twitch muscle fiber guy, you can metabolize more oxygen, but you can’t twitch as fast. So, there’s a give and take.”

“So you have a guy like Nick Diaz who needs to knock you out with volume. He can’t knock you out with one shot. Look at B.J. Penn. If round one, he doesn’t knock you out, the likelihood of him knocking you out in round two is less. Diaz is the opposite. The likelihood of him knocking you out in round three is higher than round one, because of the cumulative attack.”

One of the two images Khabib Nurmagamedov posted, targeting Conor McGregor. Instagram.

Fittest MMA Fighter?

Just because someone possesses devastating knockout power doesn’t make them the fittest MMA fighter in the world. If we’re just talking about the UFC, then you have to look at the likes of Max Holloway who is an absolute monster. Look at Robert Whittaker who survived a battering against Yoel Romero to snatch a tight win last June.

There are so many alternatives. Think about the Diaz brothers competing in triathlons on a regular basis, or the many wrestlers on the roster. Sports Illustrated clearly saw the amount of Instagram followers McGregor has and jumped on the bandwagon.

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