There’s been a ton of people who’ve been quick to anoint Conor McGregor the next big thing in the UFC at Featherweight, but No.8-ranked Nik Lentz is definitely not one of them. Lentz recently met up with Bloody Elbow for a candid interview, and he did not mince words when clarifying his feeling about “The Notorious”:
“First order of business is to slow your stroll, sonnyboy. Beat a few guys before you start sounding off. You had the perfect venue, a receptive crowd, and all the time in the world to prepare. And what did you do? What did you prove? You landed every punch you know how to throw and the guy didn't blink. “
“Same with your dazzling arsenal of impact-free kicks. Then you went to your so-called "wrestling skills" and did absolute squat on the mat as well. Then you got HURT! So you have no punching power, your kicks wouldn't stagger a baby flamingo, you can't wrestle, and you're as fragile as an overdone egg. You blew your knee out PLANTING YOUR LEG to KICK. And you think you can stand up to the wear-and-tear of genuine, top-level competition? Please.”
Lentz has a highly varying view from the sentiment of those who think McGregor has one of the most dynamic skillsets at 145-pounds. But it’s hard to deny Lentz’ claims, as McGregor did unleash a varied torrent of strikes upon Max Holloway to little fanfare at last month’s UFC Fight Night 26 from Boston. McGregor also ended up on the disabled list with a major knee injury that will sideline him until 2014, so it wasn’t exactly a rousing U.S. debut for the UFC’s Irish-born prospect.
There’s no doubting that McGregor has a front row seat on the UFC’s hype train thanks to his ultra-marketable heritage and personality. However, he’s called out virtually everyone in the stacked division while turning in a rather pedestrian performance against Holloway, at least compared to the hype he was carrying.
That hype may have been impossible to live up to in some ways, but a finish would have at least kept it rolling quite substantially.
Perhaps McGregor should own a victory over a Top-10 opponent before he anoints himself the next big thing in MMA. There’s nothing wrong with being confident, just like there’s nothing wrong with being pushed by the UFC. But when you fail to live up to the massive hype, a letdown can be imminent. Unfortunately McGregor was hurt so he’ll have to wait quite some time before being able to prove his worthiness to hang with the Featherweight division’s elite.
Lentz’ statements may be a bit overblown, but they may also have some good weight behind them. As usual, the truth is usually in between both sides of the tale, but we’ve seen highly touted fighters rise and fall like the temperature in a desert. Good examples of this are Brandon Vera and Brock Lesnar, whom Dana White actually compared McGregor’s hype to.
McGregor may come back and win the title to prove Lentz wrong, but he’ll have to fight a top name and win in order to do so. Obviously Lentz is targeting McGregor, so that could be a good place to start. But that’s a long way off right now. Do you agree with Lentz that McGregor is overrated, or is the hype still justified?