Almost 12 months ago I published a piece on this site suggesting Conor McGregor’s knee injury may prove to be one of the best things to happen to him in the early part of his UFC career. My point was, until Conor was cleared to get back in the gym and train, he would have nothing else to do with his time other than talk. And we all know how good he is at that!
Conor obviously has that inherent Irish ‘gift of the gab’ and he has it in bucket loads. He is an immensely talented fighter and of that there is no doubt, but it was his personality as much as his skill set that captured the imagination of the fans, the media and the UFC, and that is why I felt the injury would prove to be a blessing in disguise.
I was right and the McGregor ripple effect is reaching far and wide. Conor used his down time very wisely, conducting interview after interview to propel himself into the absolute stratosphere of the MMA world. No fighter of note in his division escaped his wrath and the inevitable queue started forming to be the first to shut him up. The UFC subsequently rewarded his efforts by awarding him a headline fight in his home town of Dublin.
I don’t recall any other fighter headlining an event in their home city for only their 3rd UFC fight but yet the fit again McGregor felt no pressure, instead he relished in the opportunity as Ultimate Fight Night Dublin went on to sell out in record time, as Conor told us it would.
An impressive first round TKO of the very dangerous TUF winner Diego Brandao would follow and McGregor subsequently called for a title shot. Not just any old title shot, but a title shot in Dublin’s 51,000 capacity Aviva stadium. A touch far fetched perhaps? Yes it probably was, but the truth is I would have been disappointed if he didn’t say something as wild as that.
Whilst Dana clearly absolutely loves the guys self belief, enthusiasm and marketability, the reality is that Conor hasn’t yet faced any of the top contenders in his division. This is why Conor’s contest with Dustin Poirier on September 27th is crucial for him. McGregor needs to finish Dustin and finish him in style. Only then will he have a legitimate claim for a title shot, and rightly or wrongly, I believe the UFC will give him the chance. They will probably bypass Cub Swanson to strike while the iron is hot as McGregor soars to his commercial peak.
If Conor does get a title shot then I firmly believe he could be the first fighter in UFC history to sell out a stadium, and that would be a real game changer for the sport.