By Roy Billington
In an age where most fans have no grasp of the MMA world beyond what is shown on ZUFFA or Bellator programming, I have decided to champion the cause of the unsung yet equally talented fighters that are (or should be) on the verge of signing major contracts. This series is called The Best of the Rest.
I have chosen to start my series with arguably Europe’s most exciting fighter, Conor “Notorious” McGregor. McGregor is 10 -2 and has finished every single fight of his pro career within two rounds. He is the current Cage Warriors featherweight world champion, and is unbeaten in his last 7 bouts. So what separates Conor McGregor from the rest of the European scene?
Conor McGregor grew up on an estate in the Dublin suburb of Crumlin, which is often associated with gangland activity. After “Notorious” won a junior championship in Dublin, he decided to take up mixed martial arts full time, and after winning an amateur fight by KO in less than 2 minutes, he soon turned pro. He now trains at Dublin’s Straight Blast Gym under BJJ wizard John Kavanagh. Under Kavanagh’s training, McGregor has learned to channel his aggression and become a relentless finisher. His teammates include fellow Cage Warriors champ Chris “The Killing” Fields and the very promising Cathal Pendred.
As we speak, McGregor is in Iceland, beginning camp for perhaps his biggest fight to date: a New Years Eve matchup with another prospect, Alliance Jiu-Jitsu’s Jim Alers. McGregor believes that with a win in that fight, he will have earned a call up to the UFC. In Iceland he will be training with one of the UFC’s brightest European imports, the undefeated grappling phenom Gunnar Nelson.
When I asked Conor about how he felt after his teammate debuted in the UFC, he had this to say:
“It has inspired me. When your team is winning -- no matter what level they are at -- it can do nothing but good; it gets me through the grind”.
I recently spoke with both Conor McGregor and his latest opponent Jim Alers about their upcoming fight. McGregor was very confident:
“I'll enter with an open mind and take what I get. I see me stopping him toward the end of the first.”
Alers, of course, felt different, retorting, “I see me pushing the pace from the very beginning. The fight will end in the first, but it will be me getting my hand raised at the end of this fight.”
Regardless of whether McGregor wins this fight, rest assured that his future is bright, and he will likely end up in the Octagon sooner or later.
To see why McGregor is so highly regarded, check out these videos below:
November 13, 2012
By Roy Billington