Conor McGregor will face-off against Nate Diaz in a Welterweight bout at UFC 196 on Saturday night. McGregor was expected to fight Junior Dos Santos with the Lightweight belt on the line, but Dos Santos pulled out a couple weeks earlier with a foot injury. His replacement provides a formidable opponent for McGregor both inside and outside of the octagon. Diaz’ history of verbally sparring with opponents dates back well before McGregor’s time in the UFC, but “The Notorious” is undoubtedly the marquee fighter in the matchup, and his meteoric rise to fame can only be explained in part by his fighting talent, while his celebrity has just as much to do with his ability to pick his opponents apart with nothing but a microphone in hand.
But why are we so drawn to McGregor? In a world where we want our athletes to stay humble in victory, gracious in defeat, and approach their job with an air of professionalism, there is certainly something refreshing about McGregor’s disregard for the unwritten rules of sports culture. McGregor is one of few athletes that isn’t afraid to speak his mind and gains a psychological advantage over his opponent in the moments leading up to the fight. Some of the best fighters in history did this too: Muhammad Ali, Floyd Mayweather, and, to a lesser extent, Michael Bisping to name a few. McGregor has made it clear that he makes the rules and will continue to run the game as he sees fit. With the anticipation building for UFC 196, let’s take this time to look at some of McGregor’s most outrageous moments.
15. Above the Law
One of the many perks of fame is being able to avoid the long arm of the law. For whatever reason it seems that famous people never quite have to face the same punishment as normal citizens, whether they are let off with community service or house arrest. “The Notorious” is no different and in this video he describes a run-in with an Irish police officer. Instead of giving him a ticket, the officer hopped in the car with the fighter for a selfie. Life’s good for Mr. McGregor in his homeland.
14. Crashes Fan’s Apartment
If you weren’t a fan of “The Notorious” before, check out what he did for this fan. McGregor was on his way to training in California when he noticed that a fan was hanging an Irish flag and had a cut-out of McGregor on the balcony. From the driver’s seat in his expensive ride, McGregor yelled up to the fan and told him that he would visit him that night. McGregor made good on his promise when he strolled into the apartment to meet the fan, pose for some pictures, and sign some of his memorabilia.
13. Giving Dennis Siver the Finger
Before their battle at UFC Fight Night 59, McGregor and Dennis Siver shared what you could describe as a tender moment. When referee Herb Dean requested that the fighter’s touch gloves, McGregor’s gesture was met with disapproval. Siver elected not to touch gloves and McGregor relied on sign language to tell him how he felt about it, much to the delight of the Irish fans attending the event.
12. Running Out to Aldo
The next outrageous moment comes after his fight with Siver. Fighters are expected to stay inside the octagon after fights, likely to prevent what happened after McGregor’s knock out victory. With an electric Irish crowd on hand at Boston’s TD garden, McGregor leapt over the fence and into the stands to where Jose Aldo was taking in the fight. McGregor had to be restrained by security members and later remarked, “I was going to kill that Brazilian.” Whether the animosity between the two was real or not, McGregor certainly knows how to make the most of his time in the spotlight.
11. 60 Gs Baby!
After his UFC debut against Marcus Brimage in Stockholm, McGregor used the post-fight interview as an opportunity to solicit UFC commissioner Dana White for a fight bonus. Most fighters take the opportunity to thank family, friends, or maybe even their fight team, but that just wouldn’t be Mystic Mac’s style. McGregor ended up getting $50,000 for Performance of the Night and we would like to think it was all because of the post fight interview.
10. Big Spender
It seems like “The Notorious” Conor McGregor is trying to spend his money as fast as he can make it. His Instagram account shows him driving Lamborghini’s, Roll’s Royce’s, and he famously rented a 12,000-square-foot mansion in Las Vegas just for his training camp. Fighters like Urijah Faber have been critical of McGregor, saying that all of his lavish purchases are simply bad investments. But considering that McGregor was working as a plumber and collecting welfare checks in Dublin before his fight career took off, with the way his money is coming in it would take a lot of spending to get him back down to that tax bracket.
9. New Tattoos
UFC fighters wear their skin like a uniform, so it only makes sense that most of them will get inked. And while most are satisfied with a little decal on their arm or on their back, McGregor’s tattoo choices seem to reflect his outlandish attitude in both placement and appearance. On his chest Conor has a big gorilla, most likely an ode to his passion for animal-like movement in the octagon. A little bit lower McGregor has a lion, the king of the jungle, running from just under his ribs to below his belly button. It’s no doubt why McGregor has tattooed himself with such powerful members of the animal kingdom, as he himself continues to rule over the UFC jungle.
8. Snake in the Grass
It was undoubtedly one of the most entertaining seasons of The Ultimate Fighter, when McGregor and Urijah Faber were named coaches of their respective teams. Tempers flared when Mystic Mac accused T.J. Dillashaw, someone Faber had brought up in the sport, of ditching his gym to train with a coach named Duane Ludwig. This was a rare moment on the show where McGregor took it too far, mocking Faber for never having won the title and accusing him of being a fool. Eventually tensions boiled over and an all-out brawl took place on the set of TUF with members of each team stepping in to support their coach.
7. Calling out “Pretty Boy” Floyd
No one is safe from McGregor’s verbal jabs, not even one of the greatest boxers of all-time. Floyd Mayweather suggested that race had played a part in why McGregor’s apparent arrogance was applauded in the sport, while when Mayweather tried to talk smack it was frowned upon. Not surprisingly, McGregor challenged Mayweather to a fight offering him a less than enticing piece of the purse, “I will give you a fair fight 80/20 split purse in my favour seen (sic) as your last fight bombed at every area of revenue.” It’s unlikely that the “Pretty Boy” would come out of retirement and put his 49-0 record on the line to fight McGregor.
6. Red Panty Night
For the casual observer, this press conference was McGregor’s coming out party. McGregor suggested that he could move up into the Lightweight division and take the title. Big words from someone who had yet to fight Jose Aldo for the Featherweight belt. Then he took shots at Chad Mendes, who had fought for Aldo on short notice after Aldo had suffered an injury. The best exchange comes between McGregor and Donald “The Cowboy” Cerrone, when McGregor describes his entire division as being “stiff” and “stuck in the mud.” As everything unfolded, like McGregor predicted, he beat Aldo and was set to move up a weight division to face Dos Anjos for the Lightweight title, before the injury.
5. El Chapo in His Prime
Originally slated to fight Junior Dos Santos for the Lightweight belt at UFC 196, McGregor arrived to the press conference in style, doing his best El Chapo impression, and sporting a garish blue dress shirt that El Chapo famously wore in an interview with actor Sean Penn. For those of you who don’t know, El Chapo is one of Mexico’s most powerful drug lords, and made news with his most-recent escape from a high security prison. “I’m speaking Spanish. I’m dressed like El Chapo in his prime. I’m running this company like half a ganster,” said McGregor.
4. Grabbing Aldo’s Belt
It isn’t in the Brazilian fight culture to be too loud or too proud. This is what made Aldo such a compelling opponent for McGregor. You had yin and yang, the consummate professional vs. the young upstart, the soft-spoken Brazilian vs. the brash Irishman. Aldo is usually patient and measured in his responses, and carries a chip of quiet confidence on his shoulder. All of that being said: nobody should ever touch another man’s belt. The symbolic implications are bad enough and it ended up being a sign of things to come, but only McGregor would have the nerve to reach over and grab another man’s belt.
3. Moving Up Weight Classes
For people unfamiliar with the UFC, it isn’t normal for fighters to switch weight classes to take fights. McGregor usually fights at Featherweight (145 pounds), but was moving up a division to fight Dos Anjos at Lightweight (155 pounds), the current champion at that weight class. If McGregor had fought Dos Anjos like he was originally expected, he had a shot to become the first UFC fighter to hold a belt in two different weight divisions at the same time. After this fight, McGregor allegedly plans to fight at Welterweight (170 pounds), which is an outrageous jump from his last fight.
2. UFC 196 Press Conference
The UFC 196 press conference got heated between McGregor and Diaz, and the trash talk between the two didn’t disappoint. Diaz accused McGregor of being on steroids and told everyone his strategy was to kill or be killed. McGregor predicted that he would knock Diaz out in the first round, referring to the softness of Diaz’ stomach and his sloppy conditioning. In what might have been McGregor’s best sound bite to date he said, “He’s a little cholo gangster from the hood… he makes gang signs with the right hand and animal balloons with the left hand. So you’re a credit to the community.”
1. Aldo Knockout
In the most anticipated fight of his career, McGregor easily handled long-time Featherweight champion and future UFC Hall of Famer Jose Aldo in 13 seconds. Not only was it the fastest-ever title fight knockout, it cemented McGregor as one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the sport and supported all of his predictions for the fight. McGregor said he would knock Aldo out in one round, and that is exactly what happened. It was out of character for Aldo to be so aggressive towards the start of the fight and left many wondering whether McGregor’s pre fight antics had aggravated Aldo to the point that he made a mistake in the fight.
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