Topps UFC Fighter Profile | Conor McGregor

Discover the Topps UFC Universe

Date: Jun 5, 2024
Author: Gerard Jones
Topics: Card Culture, Conor McGregor, Fighter Profile, Gerard Jones, MMA, UFC
Length: 976 Words
Reading Time: ~5 Minutes

After Conor McGregor knocked out Diego Brandao in Dublin, Ireland, in 2014, he uttered possibly his most iconic phrase in a series of iconic post-fight interviews: “We’re not here to take part; we’re here to take over.” And take over he did – becoming one of the most celebrated and popular fighters in history.

At that point, McGregor was just 26 years old, a former two-division Cage Warriors champion, and 3-0 in the UFC with impressive wins over Marcus Brimage and a young Max Holloway. He was given the “Mystic Mac” moniker—a nickname he acquired for accurately predicting when and how he would finish his opponents. History was in the making, and McGregor knew it. He manifested this beautiful violence while wrapped in an Irish flag.

Conor McGregor vs. Dustin Poirier in their featherweight bout during the UFC 178 event on September 27, 2014, in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

With a sledgehammer for a left hand and a smooth, confident, wide-stance karate style that would put his opponents on their heels, McGregor quickly moved up the UFC’s featherweight ladder, knocking out Dustin Poirier (as he predicted) in the first round at UFC 178. Then he dominated Denis Siver three months later and was officially in the hunt for Jose Aldo’s featherweight title.

Then, Aldo was (and still is) considered one of the greatest fighters of all time and seemed unbeatable at 145 pounds. And yet, McGregor was unphased by Aldo’s immortal aura and the title fight Mac called for since his first post-fight presser was scheduled for UFC 189. Unfortunately, the MMA gods threw a wrench in his plans, and Aldo pulled out just weeks before the fight with an injury. In stepped perennial top 3 featherweight Chad Mendes to take on McGregor for the interim title. The big question was: how would McGregor handle a true wrestler instead of the strikers he was out-performing in every visit to the Octagon? The answer, after spending a few minutes on his back and having his eye busted open – he would get up, outlast, and blast Mendes across the chin with his signature left hand.

It was time for Aldo again. This was expected to be a battle for the ages: Two prime competitors battling it out in an all-out war. Mac didn’t think so. He expected to quickly knock out Aldo, someone who had never been knocked out before.

It lasted 13 seconds. McGregor did it again. The featherweight belts were unified, and McGregor would have one more impressive notch in his belt – but he wanted another: the lightweight title. And he got his shot against UFC lightweight champ Rafael dos Anjos at UFC 196, except again – just days before the card, dos Anjos would have to pull out with an injury. In came Nate Diaz on short notice, and a welterweight title was made. After bloodying Diaz up with his stunning striking, McGregor wilted under the Terminator-like pressure of Diaz, who was constantly moving forward and eating everything Mac had to throw. Eventually, in the second, a 1-2 rocked the Irishman, and he went to the ground where BJJ black belt Diaz would sink in a rear naked choke. McGregor lost his first UFC fight but was still the featherweight champ. They decided to run it back at UFC 202 immediately and won another gory battle by majority decision. With his Diaz loss avenged, he had his eyes set back on being a two-division champ, and less than three months later, he’d be in Madison Square Garden, taking on Eddie Alvarez for the UFC lightweight championship. 

In what could be McGregor’s greatest performance to date, he dominated the veteran Alvarez with brilliant striking and one of the best finishing combos ever seen inside the Octagon. McGregor was the featherweight and lightweight champ and on top of the world.

Then he had a quick foray into boxing, taking on Floyd Mayweather in a fight that created an absolute media circus. He lost but still stepped up and fought one of the greatest boxers ever in his first pro boxing match.

After months of inactivity, he was stripped of his titles. Almost two years later and with a plethora of highly personal trash talk, McGregor would return to fight Khabib Nurmagomedov for the lightweight title, ultimately falling to the Dagestani wrestler via neck crank in the fourth round.

Fast forward another two years until McGregor was back in the UFC, this time taking on Donald Cerrone in a welterweight fight at UFC 246 in January 2020. He predicted the fight would be quick, and we were reminded why Mystic Mac was so special as he obliterated the usually durable Cerrone in just 40 seconds. One year later, McGregor would be back at lightweight, giving Dustin Poirier a rematch. After a raucous back and forth working in the clinch in the first, Poirier and McGregor would settle into a kickboxing match in the second. McGregor was looking sharp and confident, then got caught by a heavy overhand from Poirier, who saw McGregor was hurt and unleashed a non-stop barrage of punches, eventually finishing the Irishman and bringing their rivalry to 1-1. 

Nine months later, they’d meet again. After an insane first round in which both men would brutalize each other with leg kicks and elbows on the ground, McGregor’s ankle would crack, he’d crumble to the ground, and Poirier would be declared the winner via doctor stoppage. McGregor, once again, would be out for years.

Now healed up, McGregor’s tabbed the ferocious Michael Chandler as his next opponent at UFC 303, and it doesn’t take a mystic to tell this fight will be another must-watch classic. 

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