At this Saturday’s UFC 216 PPV (pay-per-view event) at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, there is a huge interim lightweight title fight taking place in the main event that will see Tony Ferguson fight Kevin Lee. The expectation is that it will be one of the best fights of 2017.
There is a shadow over this fight in the way of lightweight champion Conor McGregor, who has not been seen in the world famous Octagon since November of 2016 when he beat Eddie Alvarez to become the new champion at UFC 205.
The winner of the main event this weekend should get the opportunity to challenge for the real title. The UFC Champion has suggested in the past that he’s open to the idea but he has also laid out numerous other possibilities for his next fight. His coach wants a trilogy bout with Nate Diaz and he has entertained fighting Paulie Malignaggi in a boxing bout.
Longtime UFC commentator Joe Rogan addressed the singular greatness of McGregor during a recent edition of his podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience (transcript courtesy of MMA Fighting). He talked about how McGregor has gone from a low level fighter to superstardom and why there will never be another like him.
“You’re never gonna see another one like him because he’s a unique person. He’s literally being himself. You’re gonna see a bunch of people try to mimic that and in a sense, he sort of mimicked the people who came before him, like the Chael Sonnen’s and the Muhammad Alis and the people that were really good at talking s**t. The difference is, what Conor’s been able to do is he’s the first guy in the UFC that’s been able to do that, that’s had spectacular results, and also showed his real character in losing and then coming back and winning very quickly afterwards against the same guy – the Nate Diaz fight. That was a very important character exposing fight because he lost a fight, he got humbled, and then he jumped right back on the horse and then wound up winning. Then he comes back and blows Eddie Alvarez out of the water to become the first two-division, concurrent champion in the sport.”
McGregor has proven over and over that he is the biggest star MMA that has ever been seen. His latest bout, which was a boxing bout against Floyd Mayweather Jr. sold over 4 million pay-per-view buys. Although he lost the bout by TKO in the 10th round, Rogan believes that that’s just proof positive of how “extraordinary” the lightweight champion is.
“I think he’s a unique guy in a very – it’s almost like we don’t have a word strong enough [to describe him]. Unique isn’t a strong enough word. . . He’s got brilliant ability. He’s incredibly smart. He’s very innovative in his techniques and his approaches and I think he has phenomenal coaching as well.
“He’s a combination of a lot of things. He has a brilliant team. John Kavanagh, his coach, is a brilliant coach. He’s got amazing jiu-jitsu coaching and striking coaching and his mind, he understands how to apply these things. His ability to perform under pressure is fantastic. You saw that in the Mayweather fight. Even though he lost that fight, he hit Mayweather with some pretty good shots and he won the first three rounds against the greatest boxer of all-time. That’s extraordinary. Conor’s an extraordinary person. He has greatness.”
The short amount of time that it took McGregor to reach the top of the MMA (mixed martial arts) promotion is amazing in itself as he made his UFC debut only four years ago by scoring a KO victory over Marcus Brimage in 67 seconds.
He is at a point in his career where he can clear at least 1 million pay-per-view buys for any fight that he is involved in. Rogan strong believes that the next fight that McGregor is in will be the biggest fight in UFC history due to the fact that the UFC Champion is the most popular fighter in the world now.
“I don’t think it hurts his stock in any way. I think it elevates him. His next fight in the UFC, whoever it will be, will be probably the biggest fight in UFC history, especially if it’s Nate Diaz because Nate Diaz is a huge name. If Nate Diaz and him decide to do it one more time I think that will be the biggest fight ever in the history of the sport because I think Conor has eclipsed the sport, largely.
“He’s the biggest combat sport athlete not just of today, but ever. There’s no one like him.“