Former two-division UFC champion Conor McGregor’s 74-inch reach was a talking point back in 2015 when he fought at featherweight where most fighters were significantly smaller in size compared to the SBG Ireland standout. But how does Conor McGregor’s reach compare with other fighters in the lightweight division where he previously held the championship title?
For the uninitiated, a fighter’s reach is the distance between the tips of his middle fingers when both arms are raised at shoulder height parallel to the ground. While Conor McGregor still has a slight one-inch reach advantage over the top five lightweights with an average reach of 72.8 inches, it turns out that the numbers can be misleading sometimes.
Conor McGregor, who slid down two spots to No. 6 in the official UFC rankings, has a reach advantage over No. 1 ranked fighter Dustin Poirier (72-inch), No. 2 ranked Justin Gaethje (70-inch) and No. 4 ranked Michael Chandler (71.5”). While No. 3 ranked Charles Oliveira’s 74-inch reach matches with that of McGregor, No. 5 ranked former interim lightweight champion Tony Ferguson has a two-and-a-half-inch reach advantage over him.
Conor McGregor’s reach is not the sole reason behind his success
Although reach has always been considered as one of the best attributes for Conor McGregor, it is the effective use of the attribute that has made him successful in his storied MMA career. McGregor is long, and he fights long. The Irishman is known for controlling the striking range by using his reach and footwork to stay out of the harm’s way.
Although McGregor does not have a pronounced reach advantage over most of the fighters in the top five of UFC’s lightweight division, it does not necessarily hurt the Irishman’s chances against them because none of those fighters is known for fighting at length.
However, reach in MMA is still calculated based on the criteria that are more suitable for the sport of boxing where kicks are not allowed. MMA is laced with a much wider variety of attacks ranging from punches to kicks and knees to elbows as well as an entirely different world of grappling. Arm reach in MMA is all but a small fraction of any fighter's arsenal and does not always affect the fight's outcome because it is maximised or minimised based on factors like the fighter's stance, leg reach and body type.