Without a shadow of a doubt, Conor McGregor is one of the most polarizing yet most beloved fighters in the UFC and the combat sports community. Establishing himself as the perfect heel figure who is just too hard to hate, McGregor has won over both hardcore and casual fans alike.
The way he influenced the modern MMA landscape is reminiscent of how Michael Jordan, Lionel Messi, and Tom Brady shaped basketball, soccer, and soccer, respectively. A generational talent, nothing can be taken away from what he brings to the fold, whether inside or outside the Octagon.
The perfect fusion of a showman and a striking maestro, Conor McGregor embodies the virtues one needs to take a sport like MMA to new heights.
To say that Conor McGregor bolstered the UFC’s claim to be the biggest MMA promotion in the world would be an understatement. Although the UFC, in the pre-McGregor era, was really booming, the Irishman entered the promotion like a storm.
The pre-McGregor era saw the UFC garner a tremendous amount of attention from the devotees of combat sports. People like Georges St-Pierre, Ronda Rousey and many others have done wonders for MMA and combat sports as a whole.
In fact, McGregor is infamous for taking long breaks from active competition, some of which are due to injuries. Still, the UFC seems to thrive in his absence. Nonetheless, the point is, Conor McGregor has given the UFC and the sport of MMA a more mainstream appeal.
Having established himself and his promotion as a household name, the Dubliner has done more than enough to become the face of the fighting game. Here’s why the modern MMA scene should be grateful for everything the Irishman has done for the sport during his rich career.
# 3. Conor McGregor boosted the inflow of capital
Having handcrafted an extremely outrageous yet entertaining character, “The Notorious” has done enough to attract a legion of followers and detractors who can’t get enough of him.
Therefore, every time the natives of Crumlin don a pair of gloves, people all over the world are glued to their TV screens, generating profits for the promotions.
Money fights are synonymous with Conor McGregor. So much so that even fighting on the undercard of an event featuring the Irish southpaw makes the career of a rookie fighter.
The Irishman also owns seven of the eight best-selling pay-per-view events in UFC history. UFC 229: Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Conor McGregor topped the list with 2.4 million PPV buys.
“The Notorious” is also number two on the list of the most profitable fights of all time. Appropriately titled “The Money Fight”, Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor fight sold 4.3 million pay-per-views
# 2. Conor McGregor led the charge of crusader combat culture
Prior to the Conor McGregor vs. Floyd Mayweather fight in August 2017, the crossover fights between athletes from different platforms in the combat sports community were unheard of. Today, crossover fights have become the norm. They are a sure-fire way to attract new fans to the sport, be it MMA or boxing.
Conor McGregor set the stage for non-boxers like Jake and Logan Paul. He paved the way for them to fight with people like Ben Askren and Tyron Woodley.
The Irishman has drawn the ire of boxing purists ever since he triggered the fuse that led to a culture of crossover fighting. However, it also opened the door for sports veterans like Anderson Silva and Vitor Belfort to find their way back into the mainstream combat sports discourse.
# 1. Conor McGregor has attracted new fans to the sport with his outrageous antics
Having solidified his position at the top of the food chain, Conor McGregor is a name that is always on the lips of his contemporaries and critics. Choosing to quarrel with the right people is an art that the Irishman has mastered.
His quarrels have earned him a tremendous amount of infamy. It often finds itself in the eye of any brewing storm in the MMA community. If that’s not a great showmanship, then nothing is.
Perhaps the most important feud McGregor engaged in was with Khabib Nurmagomedov. The commitment that ‘The Notorious’ shows while creating a hype around a fight is unprecedented.
So much so that he was arrested in 2018 for attacking the Khabib team bus. The fact that this incident took place six months before their fight never fails to amaze.
When the fight was finally announced, the former two-time champion wasted no time and started talking trash almost instantly.
All this only served to make his notoriety known. By drawing attention to himself, Conor McGregor draws fans’ eyes to the promotion he is fighting for, whether in MMA or boxing.