UFC featherweight Conor McGregor is a name on everybody’s lips right now. The feisty Irish phenom kept the hype train rolling at UFC fight Night 46, knocking out Diego Brandao in the opening round and working himself in to a UFC 178 showdown with Dustin Poirier for his efforts. The Dublin-based event was about much more than just a win for ‘The Notorious’ though.
What we don’t know about McGregor is how he will manage against a Top 10 opponent like ‘Diamond,’ but he is surely ready for that test. Feeding him competition like Brimage, Brandao and Holloway is pointless now, as it’s clear that the young Irishman is just too far ahead of them right now. So is this the start of McGregor’s clear run at the title?
I asked that question in the moments following his win against Brandao in Ireland, and for good reason; he a ticket selling machine for the UFC, he wants to fight, and has the ‘it’ factor with fans. On top of that, he has masses of raw talent, ability and athleticism. As we know, it takes more than just being a great martial artist at this level now; you have to be the whole package.
But could this be too much too soon for McGregor, or is Dustin Poirer the next to get steamrolled by the hungry Dubliner? Erik Koch is probably the best name on Poirier’s record, and the ATT product also holds a first round knckout win over Diego Brandao. Although he has been fighting for the UFC a lot longer, I wouldn’t say Poirier is that much more experienced than Conor.
One thing about Poirier is that the guy has lost all of his matches against Top 5-ranked opponents thus far. Chan Sung Jung beat him by submission back in 2012, and Cub Swanson scored a unanimous decision win over ‘Diamond’ in 2013 to keep him from breaking into title shot territory. The only difference here is that McGregor is behind Poirier in the rankings.
I do believe that big things lay ahead for McGregor regardless of the outcome of his UFC 178 bout. But how does the UFC keep ‘The Notorious’ in the limelight if he starts getting beaten by Top 10 fighters? I personally think he is a legitimate beast, but we are all wrong sometimes. Will they be able to go to the well with McGregor if he just turns out to be a monster gate keeper? UFC 178 will answer a lot of questions.
The promotion obviously wants it’s biggest sellers to keep winning, but even squash matches can blow up in the face of match makers. In the featherweight division there are never going to be easy fights, and I imagine it is the hardest category to ‘nurse’ talent in. McGregor will undoubtedly be worth his weight in gold with a win over ‘Diamond’, a loss would be quite the setback in a crowded and talented division.