As his much-anticipated comeback inches closer, we track Conor McGregor's unfathomable rise from up-and-coming prospect in Ireland to the biggest star in the UFC today.
Arguably the biggest superstar in all of the combat sports at the moment, Conor McGregor is set to grace the octagon in Abu Dhabi on January 23 when he takes on Dustin Poirier in the main event of UFC 257. However, it was at a British promotion named Cage Warriors where the Irishman first made his mark as a charismatic young fighter. It was here that the magical hype and aura surrounding the former two-division champion started to build.
UFC stalwarts including the likes of Michael Bisping, Gegard Mousasi, Bigfoot Silva, Dan Hardy, Joe Duffy, and Dennis Siver have previously competed under the Cage Warriors banner. Conor McGregor made his Cage Warriors debut at Cage Warriors 39: The Uprising back in 2010 in a lightweight encounter against Joe Duffy. It was an unmemorable debut for the Irishman who lost via submission.
How Conor McGregor started the 'champ-champ' trend
It was in 2011 that Conor McGregor truly announced his arrival at Cage Warriors. McGregor took the world by storm in his second stint with the promotion, picking up four TKO finishes which include three first-round scalps.
Aron Jahnsen was McGregor's first victim during his whirlwind second stint at Cage Warriors. He TKO'ed Jahnsen in the first round, and followed it up with another first-round knockout victory against Cage Warriors 45 in February 2012.
The back to back victories put Conor McGregor in prime position to fight for the vacant Cage Warriors featherweight title. McGregor made quick work of Dave Hill in the title fight, picking up an impressive second-round submission win and becoming the Cage Warriors featherweight champion.
Then came the big moment. Conor McGregor climbed to lightweight in an attempt to become the first 'champ-champ' in Cage Warriors history. His unorthodox style and terrific striking proved too good for his opponent Ivan Buchinger at Cage Warriors 51 in Dublin as The Notorious One picked up a dominant first-round KO win, thus becoming a two-division champion.
The noise that Conor McGregor's in-cage antics made against Buchinger on that chilly 31st December night in Dublin was heard across the globe. UFC president Dana White soon came up with an offer for the Irishman to sign with the UFC and the rest, as they say, is history.Published 10 Jan 2021, 17:43 IST