Conor McGregor is now the biggest star in UFC history.
He stands above the crowd with stunning victories against fellow legends, Jose Aldo, Eddie Alvarez and Max Holloway.
His in-ring ability, combined with his razor-sharp tongue and brash brand of self-promotion, has made him a global superstar.
His name is known throughout the the MMA world, and has crossed into popular culture. It is difficult to believe, in 2013, that McGregor was picking up unemployment benefit cheques.
Brutal KO in Cage Warriors Bout
A crucial turning point in McGregor’s life came on New Year’s Eve in 2012. At this point he was champion in the Cage Warriors’ featherweight division.
However, his management had received a rejection from the UFC a few months previously, seemingly shattering McGregor’s dreams to make it big in the sport.
At The Helix in Dublin, McGregor attempted to add the lightweight crown to his resume.
His opponent was Slovakian fighter Ivan Buchinger, who boasted an impressive record with only three losses. McGregor’s performance was near perfect, showing deft head movement and unleashing of the lethal left hook he has become synonymous with.
He managed a dramatic K.O. finish of Buchinger, sending his lifeless body to the canvas during the very first round.
When he claimed Cage Warriors’ featherweight gold, McGregor jumped the cage and celebrated widely with his jubilant fans.
This time however, he was a figure of calm, with his face showing his clear disappointment at failing in his bid to join the UFC. He needn’t have worried though.
The rising star’s charisma, ability and watchability caught the eye of the UFC bosses on this night.
By the following February, McGregor was signed to the UFC, and by April, he had won his UFC debut against Marcus Brimage by TKO. The legend of Conor McGregor was underway.
It doesn’t come as a surprise that the UFC career of McGregor came as a direct result of his work ethic, failure to give up and by way of his signature, sleep-inducing left hook.
Dana White always has his eye on the potential marketability and show-stopping ability of fighters in the UFC’s crosshairs.
Connor McGregor was the perfect storm, and this was a marriage made in heaven.