“I’m cool with all the gods. Gods recognize gods.” Conor McGregor, January 2016
Tuesday was a crazy day in the world of mixed martial arts. Early in the morning, news broke (again) that Rafael dos Anjos was injured and would be unable to defend his Lightweight Championship against MMA’s biggest star, Conor McGregor, at UFC 196. McGregor was attempting to move up a weight class and become the first simultaneous dual champ in UFC history. To complicate matters, the fight was scheduled for March 5; only eleven days away. The safe play would have been to put McGregor on ice and setup the Lightweight title fight with RDA at UFC 200 in July. McGregor, though, was primed and ready to fight on March 5 and there was no shortage of potential opponents.
With McGregor’s lightweight championship dreams put on hold, several popular, ranked fighters took to twitter to challenge McGregor on very short notice. Donald Cerrone, Anthony Pettis, BJ Penn, Uriah Faber, and Manny Gamburyan were all willing to offer up their services. In contrast, it was also reported that Jose Aldo and Frankie Edgar had turned the fight with McGregor down.
This set the MMA world abuzz. Polls were posted, articles were written, and videos were produced at a break neck speed. Commentators debated McGregor’s potential opponents. Everyone wanted to know who would win the “Mystic Mac” lottery? Who was going to enjoy “red panty night?” How was all of this going to turn out?
By the end of Tuesday evening, we had our answer. On ESPN, Dana White announced that Nate Diaz had agreed to the matchup with McGregor. The biggest issue was weight. In the end, McGregor agreed to fight Diaz at 170 pounds. McGregor last fought on December 12, 2015 at 145 pounds. Less than three months later, he agreed to move up 25 pounds in weight; moving up not one, but two weight classes. This is unheard of in combat sports.
Once again, McGregor proved he was a legend. No one at his level has ever done anything like this. Not Ronda Rousey. Not Jon Jones. Not Anderson Silva. Not Georges St. Pierre. McGregor is on a different level than all of them.
Moving up one weight class is extremely risky. Fighting bigger, stronger athletes isn’t easy. There is a reason GSP never did it. Now, think about moving up two weight classes; in less than 90 days. McGregor has MILLIONS of dollars riding on each fight he takes. A normal champion would have just waited for UFC 200 and done the dos Anjos fight then. But not for Conor McGregor; no that would be too easy. He is ready and wants to fight someone. Anyone. It doesn’t matter who or how much they weigh. He just does not care. His mindset outside of the cage and performances inside of it are amazing.
McGregor has already gone 7-0 in the UFC, with 6 performance bonuses, and 6 KO/TKO. On short notice, he beat the best wrestler in the Featherweight division. Then, he knocked out the greatest featherweight in MMA history in 13 seconds. To follow that up, he now makes this unprecedented decision. Why not move up two weight classes.
If McGregor wins on March 5, he will no longer be a legend. He will be something else altogether. We will have to recognize him for what he truly is; an MMA god.