We all remember the 10th of July 2021 as the day that Connor McGregor, aka “The Notorious,” went down. UFC264 and the much-anticipated trilogy lightweight event between Dustin Poirier and McGregor were set to be the talk of the talk. Tempers were flying, social media was buzzing, and many sought to seek how to cancel Gamstop to place a bet on the greatest MMA fight of the year.
The odds were quite even, with a slight move toward McGregor. Everyone wanted to bet on McGregor becoming a champion and staying at the top of the pack in UFC’s great ranks. Just as the clock struck round 1, McGregor fell to the floor, growling in pain, as the octagon fell silent. The event’s doctor stopped the fight stating that McGregor had suffered a broken left fibula and tibia, an injury that would keep him away from fighting, training, and everything in between.
The Notorious was bedridden, waiting for surgery, with rehabilitation taking up to 12 months. Dublin’s finest fighter was not the golden boy anymore; he was not the fighter that taunted Khabib all those years ago, and he was not a champion anymore.
With a rumored return to UFC in 2023, can Connor McGregor make it to champion status again?
McGregor’s Road to Greatness
One can only debate if McGregor will make it to the very top of UFC again. Being out of the octagon since July 2021 and announcing a possible return to UFC in early 2023 means that McGregor would have been out of the fighting arena for 18 months. Will he lose his skills? Will he be as fierce as he once was at his next fight? And did the Notorious fully recover from the UFC 264 injury? These are all questions we ask ourselves when we talk about McGregor’s return to the ring, and to be fair, only time will tell.
The great Mohammed Ali once said that “To be a great champion, you must believe you are the best; if you are not, pretend you are.” This is exactly what McGregor did when he met Dana White, UFC’s president, in Dublin, Ireland, in February 2013. Following massive winning streaks at CWFC Featherweight and Lightweight Championships, McGregor convinced White of his greatness, and the latter signed the Irish fighter in the days to follow.
The UFC Days and reaching the champion ranks
Connor McGregor has had an excellent UFC run. The 6th of April, 2013, marked his UFC debut and secured his first win against Marcus Brimage. The biggest test in McGregor’s UFC fighting career came along during UFC Fight Night 26, where he squared off with UFC Featherweight Champion and GOAT Max Holloway. Stunning viewers, punters, and even us, McGregor won the fight unanimously. Unfortunately, the fight had its downside also, as McGregor suffered ligament injuries, a pain that cost him face surgery and 10 months out of the Octagon.
McGregor basked through 2014, with victories against Dustin Poirier, albeit the latter being one of UFC’s favorite and best fighters. The Notorious landed fewer strikes than his counterpart yet managed to win via TKO and secured a ‘Performance of the Night Award.’ Good to note that this fight ignited a rivalry with Poirer, as the ex-champion sought retribution.
In 2015, McGregor pursued Championship status with a much-anticipated fight against Aldo at UFC 183. That fight set the betting world on fire as both fighters embarked on world tours to promote it. From a humble lad from the outskirts of Dublin, McGregor had reached the pinnacle of greatness, and this was McGregor’s moment to shine and show his worth. The fight got canceled due to McGregor’s opponent suffering an injury. Staying on the night’s fight card, the Notorious was set to fight Chad Mendes with the UFC Interim Featherweight Championship title on the line. McGregor gave it his all; he shook Mendes to the code and secured a TKO win to be crowned Champion. The dream was not a dream anymore; it was a reality witnessed by 16,019 people, breaking all gate figures at $7,200.00. When winning his world titles, McGregor set the record for the most attended mixed martial arts fight in the United States.
UFC Unification bout and the road to undisputed
Stopping at nothing, McGregor sought the next steps. Hungry for dominance and the spotlight at the buzz that comes along with it, he challenged Jose Aldo for the UFC Featherweight Championship. This is the athlete’s greatness, stopping at nothing to reach the highest level of greatness. Knocking Aldo during the first round proved easy, and the fight earned Connor the grand title of “Fastest knockout” in UFC history.
Bouncing back from the first UFC defeat like a true warrior
The first defeat occurred during UFC 196 against the former Lightweight Champion Nate Diaz. While McGregor did throw in some punches here and there, Diaz stunned him with the ‘Stockton Slap,’ a move he is famous for. McGregor fought hard but tapped into submission during the fight’s second round.
If you thought that McGregor would lay low and await his next chance at a title fight, you are wrong, as The Notorious took no time in rechallenging Diaz for a second dance. The fight took place at UFC 200, with McGregor again giving a ‘now or never’ performance that saw him destroy Diaz with a unanimous decision win. Walking away with not just the fight title, McGregor also broke yet another pay-per-view record, scoring 1.65 million buys to watch the Notorious take revenge on the only fighter he suffered a loss to, Nate Diaz.
Return to the octagon, and possible UFC champion
People either love or loathe McGregor, but either way, they have to appreciate the stamina, drive, and resilience he has. His humble start was not at UFC, and he fought hard to reach the levels of top-level fighters. A bricker by day and a fighter by night was McGregor’s ethos, and he never gave up on challenges and big fights.
As we move closer to 2023, McGregor has teased a possible return to UFC in the early stages of 2023. Currently filming a Hollywood blockbuster, the Dublin native plans to kick off training camp as soon as the movie is done and dusted. Can McGregor make it back to the very top of UFC? Definitely, yes.
As McGregor once said, “Real champions fight through adversity,” which is what he has always done. Through losses, injuries and surgeries, McGregor has fought through everything and came out on top. While we envisage McGregor’s comeback to be full of drama and media bust-ups, we also are pretty confident that McGregor will reign supreme as UFC champion again.
Honestly, 2023 cannot come along any sooner. We need our dose of McGregor, and soon.