UFC superstar Conor McGregor is easily the most well-known recognized figure in mixed martial arts.
His rise to the top was nothing short of phenomenal. McGregor redefined what it meant to be a fighter. He achieved unparalleled heights never seen before in the sport and continues to be the biggest draw despite his lack of activity.
Back in December 2008, McGregor contemplated choosing a different career path following his knockout victory over Stephen Bailey. It’s hard to imagine where the sport would have been without McGregor but if it wasn’t for his mother contacting coach John Kavanagh to revive his passion, we may never have seen the Irish icon in the UFC.
To celebrate his birthday today July 14, we look back at five of his greatest achievements.
#5 Becoming the first European double-champ
Kicking things off on the list, we turn the clock back to June in 2012. McGregor had just dethroned Dave Hill to become the Cage Warriors featherweight champion at CWFC 47. While he didn’t exhibit his grappling abilities in the UFC, the 34-year-old Dubliner defeated Hill in the second round with a rear-naked choke submission.
Following the win, he set his eyes on the lightweight gold and was pitted against Ivan Buchinger for the New Year’s Eve card of CWFC 51.
McGregor went on to defeat Buchinger with a deadly one-punch knockout in the first round and became the first European professional mixed martial artist to hold titles in two divisions simultaneously.
#4 Fastest Finish in a UFC Title Fight
“The Notorious” was making his presence known in the UFC. He was poised to face former UFC featherweight titleholder Jose Aldo at UFC 189 after racking up a five-fight win streak.
Aldo, who was undefeated for over a decade and widely considered the greatest 145-pound athlete of all time, was forced to pull out of the bout due to a rib injury. Chad Mendes was found as the replacement for the headlining contest.
McGregor extended his win streak to six by dispatching Mendes towards the end of round two before finally getting his shot at Aldo after months of trash talk in December 2015.
He created history by knocking out the longtime king in just 13 seconds at UFC 194. To date, it is the fastest recorded finish in a UFC title fight.
#3 First UFC ‘Champ-Champ’
After Conor got to the top of the 145-pound hierarchy, he was en route to face titleholder Rafael dos Anjos for the UFC lightweight belt in a clash of the champions, the second of its kind in the promotion’s history.
Unfortunately, dos Anjos withdrew from the event citing a foot injury. Fan-favorite Nate Diaz was found as the replacement after Aldo and Frankie Edgar had both declined the offer to step in.
Following two blockbuster fights with Diaz, McGregor would get his chance at the lightweight title against Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205 in Nov. 2016. He put on a magical performance and became the first ‘champ-champ’ in the UFC by knocking out Alvarez.
#2 Mega Crossover Match With Floyd Mayweather
Billed as The Money Fight and The Biggest Fight in Combat Sports History, Conor McGregor’s mega-crossover bout with eleven-time five-division boxing champion Floyd Mayweather was widely regarded as the commercial pinnacle of his career.
Regardless of its impact on competition, McGregor took mixed martial arts to the big stage. The megafight added legitimacy to the sport that many boxing fans were quick to dismiss in the past.
The undefeated boxer extended his record to 50 wins against the “Mystic Mac” in a match that recorded the second highest pay-per-view buy rate in history.
#1 King of PPVs
As much as McGregor has achieved inside the octagon, it’s hard to argue his impact on the sport when considering the highest UFC pay-per-view buys. Whether you look at title fights or non-championship main events, it’s “The Notorious” who rules each entry in the top five.
His fight with Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 229 is the highest-selling event in the company’s history, generating 2.4 million pay-per-view buys.
McGregor also recorded the biggest gate of any event with UFC 205 bringing in $17,700,000 at Madison Square Garden in New York.