UFC champion Conor McGregor turns 28 today and it’s fair to say that the outspoken Irish superstar has taken the world of mixed martial arts by storm.
‘The Notorious’ has been on an incredible journey since his debut against Marcus Brimage just over three years ago, going on an undefeated run to a UFC title, as well as becoming one of the highest paid athletes and highest grossing PPV stars of all time.
This week also marks the one year anniversary of his first taste of UFC gold, when he TKO’d Chad Mendes to win the interim 145lbs championship, before converting that into the real thing last December when he unified the featherweight belts with that stunning left hook which changed the landscape of mixed martial arts as we know it.
And, although Conor came unstuck in his last fight against Nate Diaz, he has the chance to get that win back at UFC 202 next month, with potential bouts against Aldo and Eddie Alvarez in his future too.
It’s safe to say the future is still bright for ‘The Notorious’.
So, Happy Birthday champ. To celebrate, here’s eight of McGregor’s most stunning knockouts inside the cage…
vs Steve O’Keefe
Before he started making waves in the UFC and became a worldwide superstar, McGregor was tearing up the UK scene and won championships in two separate weight classes in Cage Warriors. Before that incredible achievement, however, in early 2012, a younger and beardless McGregor was earning that featherweight title shot against the unfortunate Steve O’Keefe, smashing him with repeated elbows to the side of the head. Ouch.
vs Ivan Buchinger
After winning the CWFC 145lbs title from Dave Hill, McGregor went after Ivan Buchinger’s 155lbs championship in his next fight. And he didn’t just win, he delivered one of the most brutal one punch knockouts ever seen in Cage Warriors. This beautifully timed counter left hook put Buchinger’s lights out and saw McGregor become the first fighter in Cage Warriors history to hold two belts simultaneously. He now wants to do the same in the UFC and a pretty similar punch to this one got him started on that path (more on that later…).
vs Marcus Brimage
After signing with the UFC, it’s safe to say McGregor made an immediate impact in his Octagon debut in 2013. Taking on the tough Marcus Brimage, ‘The Notorious’ made short work of the TUF alumnus, needing just 67 seconds to score the knockout with multiple pinpoint punches. ‘The Notorious’ was in the big leagues and nothing would ever be the same again…
vs Diego Brandao
Before his recent spectacular fall from grace, Brandao was one of the most feared hitters in the UFC featherweight division, possessing absolute dynamite in his hands. Prior to their fight, Brandao vowed to end the media hype around McGregor and expose him. He didn’t succeed. McGregor once again silenced his doubters, landing his trademark left hook on the Brazilian at the end of the first round for the TKO win in his first UFC main event, headlining in his hometown of Dublin, Ireland.
vs Dustin Poirier
Man, Dustin Poirier really didn’t like Conor McGregor. ‘The Notorious’ had put his world class trash talking skills to good use in the lead up to this fight, infuriating ‘The Diamond’, who thought Conor was all talk and no substance. Cue an incensed and overaggressive Poirier trying to hurt McGregor inside the Octagon and Conor capitalising in a big way, needing less than two minutes to finish one of the toughest guys at 145lbs.
vs Dennis Siver
Headlining in the heavily Irish U.S. state of Boston, McGregor took on another tough test in technical kickboxer and spinning back kick expert Dennis Siver. Despite the danger of his German opponent though, Conor had an inch-and-a-half reach advantage and he made it count, landing plenty of flashy kicks and nasty body punches, finally overwhelming Siver in the second round to earn a title shot against featherweight king José Aldo.
vs Chad Mendes
However, Aldo pulled out of that scheduled July 2015 title defence against McGregor just two weeks before the fight, due to injury. Instead of waiting for his shot, ‘The Notorious’ boldly stepped in at the event to face fellow top contender Chad Mendes for the interim championship. Although Mendes came out strong in the first round, he began to tire in the second and McGregor took full advantage with kicks to the body, before finishing it with his infamous left hook.
vs José Aldo
Next up was José Aldo in the unification bout to determine the true UFC featherweight champion. Their bout at UFC 194 last December was the biggest in the history of the 145lbs division, featuring the greatest featherweight fighter in mixed martial arts history against the hottest star in the game. After almost a year of stop start and some of the craziest back and forth trash talk ever seen, a furious Aldo just wanted to get his hands on McGregor – and it cost him. It took Conor just 13 seconds to land his counter left hook on a far too aggressive Aldo. 13 seconds to defeat the best 145lbs fighter ever and capture the UFC featherweight title. Incredible.