Over his entire mixed martial arts (MMA) career, the ground game of featherweight champion Conor McGregor has always come into question with every defeat, and even every victory. “The Notorious One’s” current professional MMA record currently sits at 19-3, with each loss coming by submission.
McGregor suffered his first ever MMA loss against Artemij Sitenkov via kneebar in June of 2008. Two years later, McGregor met fellow Irishman Joe Duffy and lost the fight to an arm-triangle choke early in the first round.
These two losses fueled McGregor, who knew he would need to improve on his ground game in order to succeed at the next level. The Irishman would go on to earn his brown belt in jiu-jitsu under SBG head coach John Kavanagh.
The UFC received its first taste of McGregor’s ground game in August of 2013 against fellow featherweight contender Max Holloway. McGregor dominated Holloway on the ground and cruised to an easy unanimous decision victory, however, it was later revealed McGregor injured his knee in the bout and fought the majority of it with the torn ACL.
This proved to make his performance on the ground all that much more impressive. It also it left the lingering fact that we hadn’t seen his ground game while at one hundred percent. It should also be noted that Holloway isn’t known to be a ground fighter.
The Hawaiian currently only has a blue belt in jiu-jitsu as opposed to McGregor’s brown belt. The MMA world finally got a true look at McGregor’s ground game when he took on Chad Mendes at UFC 189.
Mendes completely dominated McGregor on the ground, bludgeoning him with ruthless elbows and cutting him open for the first time in the Octagon. But Mendes was unable to keep up the grinding pace, which McGregor capitalized on and KO’d Mendes in the closing moments of the second round.
Mendes was taking McGregor down at will and exposed major holes in the Irishman’s game, but it was later revealed McGregor fought through the bout with an injured knee and was again not competing at one hundred percent.