While the UFC is undoubtedly home to the greatest fighters on the planet, it’s probably fair to say that even the best of them get doubted by the fans for various reasons during their careers.
The top fighters in the UFC have unsurprisingly made a habit of proving their doubters wrong, whether that’s through beating seemingly unstoppable opponents or showing skills nobody thought they had.
Over the years, we’ve seen some great examples inside the octagon of a UFC star essentially forcing their doubters to eat a slice of humble pie. For hardcore fans of those fighters, it’s tough to beat when it happens.
With that considered, here are five times when UFC fighters proved their doubters wrong.
#5. Conor McGregor vs. Chad Mendes – UFC 189
Former UFC featherweight and lightweight champion Conor McGregor was always going to attract plenty of doubters during his fighting career, purely because of his ultra-confident nature.
‘The Notorious’ entered the UFC for the first time in 2013. After his debut knockout win over Marcus Brimage, he immediately began to talk an insane amount of trash, basically claiming he’d become the greatest fighter in the UFC in no time. Incredibly, the Irishman largely backed up his words and wasted no time in running through opponents such as Diego Brandao, Dustin Poirier and Dennis Siver in his early days with the promotion.
After dealing with striker after striker with his heavy hands and incredible timing, it was clear that McGregor was excellent on the feet. Unsurprisingly though, some fans still had plenty of doubts about him. They claimed that the UFC were protecting him from facing a high-level grappler and were only willing to match the Dublin native with strikers in order to ensure he’d get to a title fight with champion Jose Aldo unscathed.
However, that changed at UFC 189. McGregor was initially set to face the Brazilian there, but when Aldo injured a rib, the UFC instead pitted ‘The Notorious’ against Chad Mendes, probably the best wrestler in the featherweight division. Naturally, his doubters simply didn’t believe the Irishman could cope with Mendes’ takedowns, but that wasn’t the case at all.
Sure, ‘Money’ took McGregor down and cut him open with some elbows, but for the most part, ‘The Notorious’ was in control of the fight from the off. He hurt Mendes with a series of punches and kicks to the body. As Mendes began to tire in the second round, McGregor took his chance and knocked ‘Money’ out violently with a coffin nail left hand.
While McGregor would later struggle to deal with a top wrestler, Khabib Nurmagomedov, the fact that he was able to take Mendes out in such fashion meant that he’d proven those who figured he’d fall at the first takedown very wrong.