Irishman Conor McGregor sent a shockwave throughout the UFC on Fuel TV 9 prelims yesterday, knocking out TUF veteran Marcus Brimage with an insane combo. It was an eye-opening occurrence for many casual fans of MMA, and maybe even several hardcore fans would fail to recognize McGregor offhand.
But a deeper look into the 24-year-old Featherweight’s record shows that he’s been a force to be reckoned with merely waiting for his chance to take the UFC by storm.
After all, McGregor left his last promotion, Cage Warriors FC, as both the Featherweight and Lightweight Champion. That’s a good feat for any MMA fighter in today’s ultra competitive landscape. You could argue that the competition was of a much lower grade in Cage Warriors, and it most likely was. However, McGregor silenced those critics by making Marcus Brimage look silly.
You can rest assured that McGregor will be put up against a truly top-level opponent in his next fight, as he just dove in headfirst into the rapidly expanding pool of talent at 145 lbs. Dana White speculated yesterday that McGregor will fight again on the August 17th UFC on Fox Sports 1 event. That should be a barnburner.
So just where does Conor McGregor’s UFC debut rank among the best ever? I’ll just have to reserve the top spot for Anderson Silva’s flabbergasting Muay Thai clinic on the usually iron-chinned Chris Leben. Second, well, that has to go none other than Junior dos Santos, who destroyed the heavily favored Fabricio Werdum with a well-timed uppercut in his Octagon debut.
Joe Lauzon can never be forgotten for his epic KO of the legendary Jens Pulver. That was a surprise to everyone, and Lauzon continues to be a force that relies on the finish or be finished school of MMA. Also, let’s not forget the Korean Zombie’s debut, as he put Leonard Garcia into a Twister that looked so painful it almost hurt to watch.
There’s a handful more debuts that could be labeled more epic, more high-profile, probably even more surprising that McGregor’s debut. But the kid’s story is just so inspirational, as he stated that he has now gone from welfare to collecting a $60K check for Knockout of the Night.
So I’d say it’s definitely a top ten debut, maybe even hovering around 6-7. The combo he unleashed upon Brimage was so clean, so accurate that I can’t help but think McGregor’s going to be a force and truly shake up an already hot division at Featherweight. There are just so many fights for him there. A battle against Erik Koch. The winner (or loser) of KZ vs. Ricardo Lamas. Maybe even Cub Swanson or Frankie Edgar down the line. And who wouldn’t want to see this guy fight Jose Aldo someday?
Plus, it’s scary to think that he’s got the time to get even better. The sky could be the limit for this young Irish fighter. Let me know your thoughts, your favorite UFC debuts, and your prognostication for McGregor in the comments below.