There is officially no more reason to doubt UFC featherweight Conor McGregor or his place in the 145-pound division. Right now, he’s one of the promotion’s top fighters.
While there’s plenty of names in that weight class with more total bouts, longer overall MMA records or a deeper history in the UFC, there’s three big advantages that McGregor has over many of them: consistency, finishing ability and star power. Only the first two are important as far as rankings go, but it’s just rare for anyone in the modern UFC to have that whole package. Even though it’s debatable how far up the ladder wins over Diego Brandao, Max Holloway and Marcus Brimage should place McGregor, they’re all solid wins regardless.
Besides, the list of featherweights with an active 3-0 UFC winning streak or better is pretty short:
• Jose Aldo (24-1)
• Chad Mendes (16-1)
• Cub Swanson (21-5)
• Dustin Poirier (16-3)
• McGregor (15-2)
• Dennis Bermudez (13-3)
• Lucas Martins (15-1)
And while it’s true that McGregor’s regional competition was far from great, he still boasted a solid 100 percent finishing rate in all 10 of his wins before joining the UFC. That doesn’t happen by accident, and that’s how a top prospect is supposed to look.
But even with all the momentum, it wouldn’t mean a single thing if McGregor couldn’t talk. Now that he’s a seasoned veteran, vicious trash talk is really where he’s most valuable. That’s never a bad thing, and if the UFC handles things correctly, it’s where McGregor will thrive. More fighters could learn a thing or two in that area.
Still, featherweight is a competitive enough division that the Irishman is likely to eventually lose the sooner he matches up against top names like Poirier, Swanson or even Jeremy Stephens. But as former UFC contender Chael Sonnen has shown over and over, even a couple of damaging losses won’t break a slick-talking self promoter who can maintain his own star power.