Without a shadow of a doubt, Conor McGregor is one of the most polarizing yet beloved fighters in the UFC and the combat sports community. Having established himself as the perfect heel figure that is just too hard to hate, McGregor appealed to both hardcore and casual fans.
The way he has influenced the modern MMA landscape is not dissimilar to how the likes of Michael Jordan, Lionel Messi and Tom Brady have shaped basketball, soccer and football, respectively. A generational talent, nothing can be taken away from what he brings to the fold, be it inside or outside the octagon.
The perfect amalgamation of a showman and a striking maestro, Conor McGregor embodies the virtues one needs to carry a sport like MMA to new heights.
To say that Conor McGregor bolstered the UFC’s claim to being the greatest MMA promotion in the world would be an understatement. Although the UFC, in the pre-McGregor era, was truly on the up-and-up, the Irishman came into the promotion like a storm.
The pre-McGregor era saw the UFC accrue a tremendous amount of attention from the combat sports faithful. The likes of Georges St-Pierre, Ronda Rousey and more did wonders for MMA and combat sports as a whole.
In fact, McGregor is infamous for taking lengthy breaks from active competition, some of which are injury-induced. Yet, the UFC seems to thrive in his absence. Nonetheless, the fact of the matter is that Conor McGregor gave 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 fight game. Here’s why the modern MMA scene should be grateful for everything the Irishman has done for the sport over the course of his storied career.
#3. Conor McGregor boosted the influx of capital
Having handcrafted an extremely outrageous yet entertaining persona, ‘The Notorious’ has done enough to attract a legion of followers and detractors who cannot get enough of him.
Therefore, every time the Crumlin native straps on a pair of gloves, people from all over the world glue themselves to their TV screens, thereby driving profits for 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 a fledgling fighter’s career.
The Irishman also boasts seven of the top eight highest-selling pay-per-view events in UFC history. UFC 229: Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Conor McGregor tops the list with 2.4M PPV buys.
'The Notorious' also features in second position on the list of highest-grossing fights of all time. Aptly titled 'The Money Fight,' the Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor fight sold 4.3M pay-per-views
#2. Conor McGregor led the charge for the crossover fight culture
Ahead of the fight between Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather back in August 2017, crossover fights between athletes from different platforms of the combat sports community were unheard of. Today, crossover fights have become the norm. They are a surefire way of attracting 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 pick fights with the likes of Ben Askren and Tyron Woodley.
The Irishman has caught the ire of the purists of boxing ever since he sparked the fuse that led to a culture of crossover fights. However, it also opened the door for veterans of the sport like Anderson Silva and Vitor Belfort to find their way into mainstream combat sports discourse yet again.
#1. Conor McGregor attracted new fans to the sport with his outrageous antics
Having consolidated 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. Picking feuds with the right people is an art that the Irishman has mastered.
His feuds have earned him a tremendous amount of infamy. He often finds his way right into the eye of any storm that brews in the MMA community. If that’s not great showmanship, then nothing is.
Perhaps the most significant feud that McGregor indulged in was with Khabib Nurmagomedov. The commitment that ‘The Notorious’ exhibits while building hype around a fight is unparalleled.
So much so that he got himself arrested back in 2018 for attacking Khabib's team bus. The fact that this incident took place six months ahead of their fight never fails to astound.
When the bout was finally announced, the former double-champ wasted no time and started talking trash almost instantaneously.
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All of this has only worked in favor of spreading the word of his notoriety. In bringing attention to himself, Conor McGregor attracts the fans' eyes to the promotion he's fighting for, be it in MMA or boxing.
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